The virtues that illuminate the season
This year, the Advent season kicks off on the first Sunday of December. The Advent season beckons us to pause, reflect, and prepare our hearts for the profound significance of Christ’s arrival. Amidst the hustle and bustle of Christmas preparations, let us not overlook the spiritual essence of this sacred time.
Within our church, we adorn the sanctuary with symbolic elements, each carrying a deep significance. The Advent wreath, with its circular form, represents God’s everlasting love, unbroken and enduring. The holly branches, with their vibrant red berries and evergreen leaves, symbolize our eternal life with Jesus Christ, a life of joy and abundance.
At each Sunday morning service before the Christmas Eve night service, we will also light candles, one each week. The first candle symbolizes hope, the second faith, the third joy, and the fourth peace. These virtues form the foundation of our Christian faith and guide us towards a deeper connection with God.
During our Christmas Eve night service, a central red candle, symbolizing the birth of Christ, will join the luminous ensemble, its flame casting a warm glow upon the sanctuary. As we gather in unity, the candles become beacons of our faith, reminding us of the enduring power of hope, faith, joy, and peace.
How does Advent resonate with us today?
As we delve into the depths of Advent, let us contemplate the profound significance of Christ’s coming through three distinct lenses: His historical arrival, His enduring presence in our lives, and His anticipated second coming. Advent, in its essence, encompasses the past, present, and future, weaving these threads into a tapestry of unwavering faith.
Observed as a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the coming of Jesus Christ into the world, Advent originates from the Latin word ‘adventus,’ meaning ‘coming.’
The First Advent:
This was the moment two millennia ago when the Son of God, fully divine and fully human, was born in Bethlehem as a humble infant. The narrative of the Magi, shepherds, the angelic choir, Mary’s encounter with the angel Gabriel, and so on, paints a vivid picture of His arrival. This Messiah came to redeem us, despite our undeserving nature.
“Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.” (1 Tim 1:15)
Does this realization not move us to express our gratitude to God?
God even used John the Baptist to prepare the people for the coming of the Messiah. John instructed the people to create a path through the desert for their God, straightening the crooked ways and smoothing out the rough terrain. John’s message was metaphorical, referring to the transformation of human hearts. “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” (Matthew 3:2). Indeed, the Advent season calls for a preparation of our hearts to receive the Savior through repentance of our sins and fervent prayer for God’s forgiveness. Advent demands an acknowledgment of humanity’s need for a Savior to deliver us from sin.
Let us invite Christ into our lives and prevent this Christmas gospel from remaining a mere external observance. Is Christ a tangible presence in our lives today?
The second Advent:
Jesus Christ will return to earth in glory, not as a humble infant but as a powerful and victorious King, bringing both judgment and reward. The prospect of His return should motivate us to live lives of purpose and service, reflecting the love and compassion that He embodied.
Between the two Advents:
We are called to live in the present moment, embracing the transformative power of Christ’s presence in our lives. Let us not allow the Christmas season to pass without allowing His love to permeate our hearts and guide our actions.
As we eagerly await the joyous celebration of Christ’s birth and anticipate His triumphant return, let us embark on a journey of spiritual renewal, allowing hope, faith, and love to illuminate our path. Let us strive to live as beacons of His light, reflecting His love and compassion in all that we do.
Rev Anthony Loh