One of the things that I have grown most thankful for in these past few years, has been a recent discovery of a not-so-recent resource. For those who consider themselves to be the people of God, the church calendar truly is a gift.
The calendar teaches us what we are to be feeling, thinking about, and experiencing in whatever season we find ourselves in at the moment. More than at the whim of our desires or anyone else's agenda, what dictates the heart and direction of the calendar is the very life of Christ. Essentially, by observing key moments in the life of Christ and those who have embodied his way throughout the centuries, the calendar is a way to enter into God’s time.
I did not grow up with this being a part of my church experience but it was around this time of year. It was during an Advent service that the Christmas season became so much more to me than a day of family and presents.
What is Advent?
Advent is a Christian tradition that dates back, in some variations to the 4th Century. As we know it today it is a time to remember the anticipation of Christ's first coming as a baby in Bethlehem, as well as to prepare our hearts for the anticipation and expectancy of his second coming, when he returns to finish what he started. Advent is observed on the four Sundays leading up to Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. The Church celebrates advent primarily by reading and reflecting upon selected scripture passages that focus on Christ's coming, and by the lighting of the four advent candles. Each Sunday before Christmas, a candle is lit and we discuss one of the four themes of Advent, hope, peace, joy and love. These themes are thought to be realities realized in the coming of our Savior.
How Advent Can Shape You
Now more than ever before, the Advent message, with its themes of Hope, Peace, Joy and Love, is what we crave. Desperately. In Advent, we remind ourselves of our longing. We remember the often painful and desperate anticipation of the messiah that the people of God experienced before the coming of Christ, and the anticipation we feel today for his return, when he will make all things new again.
Advent shapes us as men because it reminds us of our longing for the one we call King. it reminds that we don’t follow Emperors we serve the King of a damp and wretched manger in the countryside of Palestine. A baby. Our Lord.
We are the people of Hope. We are men of Peace. We, who follow Jesus, embody Joy and live the way of Love. We are on a journey of becoming these kinds of men only because Christ has come and is still coming again. It's these two realities that shape us.
What to Expect From The Series
As we journey through Advent together, the next four weeks leading up to Christmas will be a deep dive into these four themes of advent. This series will feature guest voices who will be reflecting on what Advent means for us, and what it has meant to them. They will be discussing with us how we can grow in all that this season invites us into as men. Along with these reflections, we will be releasing weekly scripture reading plans, based on the Revised Common Lectionary. If you're new to the lectionary, this is another ancient Christian resource that helps to guide our scripture reading along the themes of the Christian calendar. In addition to these, we will be releasing two different playlists specifically oriented around the hope and celebration of Christ's coming.
We hope that in all of these resources you will be equipped for a fruitful advent season, leading up to an especially meaningful Christmas celebration. We encourage you to not make this just another christmas but instead to allow God to cultivate something deeper in you this year.
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Jonathon grew up in six different states across the Western United States. He made his way to Southern California to attend Vanguard University where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication. Currently, he is pursuing a Master's of Divinity Degree at Azusa Pacific University where he also works doing campus ministry with college students. Jonathon is passionate about discipleship to Jesus and innovation, especially when those two spaces meet. He aspires to encourage people to live well-curated lives of purpose and passion. You can find Jonathon living in his beloved city of Costa Mesa, California with his amazing wife, Cyndi. Oh yeah, and he is a HUGE Raiders fan.