What is Advent Anyway?

Advent is the four week season that starts the Western Church’s Yearly Liturgical Calendar. This year it begins Sunday, December 3 and ends on Christmas Eve. The traditional color for this season is purple.

Advent is Latin and means arrival and comings. Advent also means appearance and emergence. These words have the power to stir in us the spirit of anticipation and expectation.

“What do you want for Christmas this year?” is a question we will hear posed often during this season. Another word for want is desire, which conveys more passion. If we are honest, there are times we use the word want when desire is more truthful.

“Take delight in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4. These are the words of David the Psalmist. Perhaps this text can help us embrace the passion of the word desire and make this Advent season of 2017 more vibrant and relevant personally and for those lives we are privileged to touch.

How will we “delight in the LORD”? And how do we know if our desire delights the LORD? I suggest you and I first acknowledge that we have desires, both large and small. And we accept that to desire is a part of being human, created in the image of God. Then without judgment (deciding which desires are good and not so good), write them down. Next, ask the Spirit to “sit” with us in prayer as we compare our written desires with Paul the Apostle’s standard of excellence found in Philippians 4:8-9, “whatever is true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious, the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly, things to praise, not things to curse..” Philippians 4:8, Peterson’s The Message.

Cross off the desires that don’t measure up to this standard. By faith, accept that those which remain on the list are acceptable, that they even delight the LORD. Finally, out of our holiest of desires this promise will also emerge, “the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:9

“For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6, Peterson’s The Message

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, the One who DESIRES to be with us.

(Written by Rev. Julia A. Bruton-Sheppard, PBA)

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