When you first wake up, where do your thoughts go? More than likely, this is the most important thing on your mind and will typically define the rest of your day. Let's say you are planning a party or you are in the midst of a project at work. You need to focus energy and thought on how to get these things accomplished. While these are good things, is there something bigger shaping the way that we go about the smaller details of our lives? We need help focusing our attention.
The Significance of the Christian Calendar
For those not familiar with the traditional church calendar, the video below is a very accessible and short explanation. Since the season of Advent has begun, let's take a moment to reflect on how we can use the next four weeks to remind us that the story of redemption is the larger "meta-narrative" by which we as Christians understand not only human history but our own personal history. Our lives are embedded within a larger story.
Advent and the Advent Wreath
Advent is the Christian's New Year as we anticipate the arrival of the Savior. In some traditions, the celebration of Advent is symbolized through the use of an advent wreath.
The word "Advent" is derived from a Latin root which means 'coming' or 'arrival', and the season (beginning four Sundays before Christmas) was developed sometime after the sixth century as a preparation for the evangelical festival celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.
The four Advent candles in the wreath are lit successively, one candle the first week, two candles the second week, and so on. This tradition of increasing the number of candles each week sharpens our anticipation as it reminds us that we are getting closer and closer to the celebration of Christ's birth. Jesus announced himself as the completion of Isaiah's promise of "a great light" when he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life" (John 8:12). The full blaze of light in the Advent wreath on Christmas represents the fulfillment of this promise.
The Significance of Rhythm and Memory
Why is all of this important?
As Christians, when we participate in the various seasons of the church calendar, we are reminded that we are presently connected to Christians all over the world and with brothers and sisters in Christ over the past 2000 years. This rhythm and memory is bigger than any national holiday. It transcends nationalism.
Psalm 136 is a picture of the people of God reflecting upon their history and sharpening their memory. The Psalmist starts with the Lord's existence, moves through creation and recounts His redemptive work in the Exodus. Each memory is followed by the phrase, "His love endures forever." Repetition is serving a good purpose by reminding us of who we truly are by what ultimately defines us.
As you participate in the season of Advent, allow this rhythm to cultivate a memory shaped by the Greater Exodus of God's redemption through Jesus. Remember......His love endures forever!
Copyright © 2013 Tim Lane. All rights reserved.