December 5, 2016

We Need a Little Advent

You and I have already heard Johnny Mathis singing “We Need a Little Christmas” at least once. “Haul out the holly / Put up the tree before my spirit falls again. / Fill up the stocking. / I may be rushing things, but deck the halls again now. For we need a little Christmas / right this very minute.”

And we do.

It seems to me that what Cleveland Amory in The Christmas Story called the “yearly bacchanalia of peace on earth and good will to men” does, if only for a month or so, make the world a little bit kinder and more pleasant. And we should thank God for small mercies.

Nonetheless, while most people assume that Black Friday to New Years Day is the Christmas Season, it’s not. The Christmas Season begins on December 25 and lasts twelve days. Advent, the weeks prior to Christmas began Sunday. And let me suggest that perhaps more than needing a little Christmas, we need a little Advent.

Advent celebrates more than just the prophetic lead-up to Bethlehem, the manger, the shepherds, the angels and “the little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay.” The first two weeks are more “Joy to the world, the Lord is come. Let earth receive her King.” That’s not a Christmas hymn, you know. It’s a Second Coming hymn. The advent of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the Righteous Judge before whom every knee shall bow and to whom everyone will answer approaches.

“We do not preach only one coming of Christ,” wrote the fourth century Church Father, Cyril of Jerusalem, “but a second as well, much more glorious than the first. The first coming was marked by patience; the second will bring the crown of a divine kingdom. … At the first coming he was wrapped in swaddling clothes in a manger. At his second coming he will be clothed in light as in a garment. In the first coming he endured the cross, despising the shame; in the second coming he will be in glory, escorted by an army of angels.”

Read the rest at The Stream by clicking here.

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