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Happy New Year?

       Yes, that is correct, Happy New Year. The first Sunday in Advent is December 1, this year. The name Advent (From the Latin word Adventus, which means a coming). We are preparing for the coming of the Messiah, Jesus’ birth. Advent is what we call the season leading up to Christmas. It begins four Sundays before December 25, sometimes in the last weekend of November, sometimes on the first Sunday in December. This year it was December 1.

        1 Peter 1:10-12 is a clear description of what we look back to during Advent.

       Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.

       For four weeks, it’s as if we’re re-enacting, remembering the thousands of years God’s people were anticipating and longing for the coming of God’s salvation, for Jesus. That’s what advent means—coming. Even God’s men who foretold the grace that was to come didn’t know “what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating." They were waiting, but they didn’t know what God’s salvation would look like.

       During Advent, we prepare for, and anticipate, the coming of Christ. We remember the longing of Jews for a Messiah and our own longing for, and need of, forgiveness, salvation and a new beginning. Even as we look back and celebrate the birth of Jesus in a humble stable in Bethlehem. We also look forward anticipating the second coming of Christ as the fulfillment of all that was promised by his first coming.

       The Christmas season begins at sundown on December 24 (Christmas Eve) through Epiphany of the Lord (January 6). This period is popularly referred to as "the twelve days of Christmas." Three words sum up the Advent Season.

       First is anticipation. Advent is a season of preparation, expectant waiting. We are preparing to remember and to celebrate the birth of Jesus. It is a time to practice waiting, a universal experience for people of all ages. During this time, we remember the prophets that foretold Jesus’ birth (see Isaiah 7:14, Isaiah 9:6-7, Jeremiah 23:5-6) and the nine-month journey of Mary and Joseph before the birth of Jesus (see Luke 1-2, Matthew 1).

       Second word is incarnation. God’s love for us is found in Jesus, God Almighty, being born in the flesh at Bethlehem. Jesus was born in the flesh for our salvation and eternal life.

       Third word is Immanuel. That name means “God with us.” Isaiah 7:14 reads, “Therefore, the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel. Matthew 1:23 reads, “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God with us.” Matthew also ends his Gospel with the same thought in Matthew 28:20b, “And surely I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

A Blessed Advent to you and yours,