Of all the seasons of the Christian calendar, Advent has to be my favorite. Hands down. There is such a aura of hope anticipation as the light of the Advent wreath spreads from one candle to the next. Being Presbyterian, Advent is full of rich tradition. Growing up, we started each Sunday in December gathered round the table reading scripture, singing carols, and progressively lighting each of the candles in the Advent wreath. That tradition has stuck with us, which is probably what prompted this post. My brother drove down from Akron this weekend, and we were able to spend the first Sunday in Advent as a family. The three of us sang all the carols of preparation that we could think of, trying some of them in a round or in 3-part harmony. O Come, O Come Emmanuel; People look East; On Jordan's Bank; and even a few songs we'd learned at our Catholic elementary school.
More than all the ceremony and tradition, though, it's the spirit of Advent that I love. When I was young, it was just the month leading up to the real holiday: Christmas. Now I realize that it's so much more. During Advent, we remember the emotion of the Christ child's first coming as we kneel at the manger. But we also hold in our hearts the hope for his second coming - not as a newborn babe, but as a mighty king. Our songs of anticipation refer to not only the celebration of His birth, but also to His return. This song, In the First Light, really puts into words what the season means for us as believers:
In the first light of a new day
No one knew He had arrived
Things continued as they had been
While a new born softly cried
But the heavens wrapped in wonder
Knew the meaning of His birth
In the weakness of a baby
They knew God had come to earth
As His mother held him closely,
It was hard to understand
That her baby not yet speaking
Was the Word of God to man.
He would tell them of His kingdom,
But their hearts would not believe
They would hate Him and in anger
They would nail Him to a tree.
But the sadness would be broken
As the song of life arose
And the First born of creation
Would ascend and take his throne.
He has left it to redeem us,
But before His life began
He knew He'd come back not as a baby
But as The Lord of ev'ry man.
Hear the angels as they're singing
On the morning of His birth
But how much greater will our song be
When He comes again to Earth
The blessing of Christ be with you and your families and we prepare to remember His birth, and celebrate His return.