It is time to talk about the New Year. I am sure it probably seems a little early to be talking about the New Year and if you are thinking of the New Year that starts on January 1st I would agree with you. The New Year I am referring to is the Church Year which starts on the first Sunday in Advent. Many people think of this time of year as the Christmas season. Actually, it’s Advent, which, in 21st Century America, is Shopping Season! Yes, we’re preparing for Christmas, but not the way Isaiah meant.
In the Church year, Advent is more than just wrapping presents and making cookies. It’s a time of reflection, both on ourselves and the Word of God. Of course, if we look at ourselves in the mirror of God’s Law, we don’t look so good. Personal reflection just emphasizes our sin (which is the reason we omit the joyful “Alleluia’s” from our liturgy during Advent), so why would we rather do that than, say, watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” again?
The point of acknowledging our sin is not to leave us feeling bad, bummed, or guilty. God wants us to confess our sin so we are prepared to celebrate and rejoice over the coming of our Savior Jesus Christ. How does that prepare us? The whole reason Christmas happened in the first place was our sin. Jesus came to forgive that sin on the cross. Confessing our sin means agreeing with God that we are sinners. If we’re sinners, we need a Savior.
Think of what Christmas would be like if you didn’t put up a tree, didn’t buy gifts, didn’t decorate the house, and had no special Christmas dinner. We would still celebrate Christmas but it wouldn’t seem like Christmas would it? That is because the extra preparation and activities help us to celebrate the event. In the same way, Advent is our time to prepare for the celebration of Christ’s birth. The time spent in repentance, reflection, and contemplation prepares us for a meaningful joyous celebration of the birth of our Savior, even if we don’t put up a tree or buy Christmas presents.
In His service,