Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Reason for the Season: Journey through Advent

The six weeks prior to Christmas (the Nativity of our Lord in the Flesh) is a fasting period that many call Advent. Advent means “coming.” It is that period of time when we find ourselves waiting for the coming of the Messiah, the Anointed One, the Christ. For this reason, it has a different character than other fasting periods. Although there is an element of preparation involved, it is not the same as the Great Fast that precedes Holy Week and Pascha.

Nativity of Christ

The liturgical preparation is limited to the two Sundays before the Nativity and the five days leading up to the feast. Those two Sundays we are reminded of the Holy Ancestors of God and the Holy Fathers, Patriarchs, and Prophets who played a role in the coming of the Messiah. In the hymns of the Sunday cycle of services, we hear of their great faith and are called to build our own.

For most of us, we are anxious to get to the feast — we want the days to rush by. Our preparation usually consists of shopping and decorating, not to speak of the endless parties that we are invited to attend. Here is where the notion of waiting comes into play. We must discipline ourselves through self control and patience. We are to read the Scriptures, specifically the prophecies that speak of the coming of the Messiah. We are to turn our focus to a Godly way of life that calls for sacrificing and almsgiving (acts of mercy). Let us think of charity and the giving of our time, talents, and resources to others that may be in need. There is no better way to imitate Christ than to be loving and charitable towards others.

A word to the wise — put Christ back into Christmas. Find the meaning of the feast by understanding the importance of the Son of God taking on human flesh. Remember the real reason for the season is that Jesus, the Son of God, the Messiah, came into the world and dwelt among men, taking on Himself the sins of the world so that we might have life in Him.

“God is with us! Understand O nations and submit yourselves, for God is with us!” (Isaiah 8:9)

Reading stolen from the Antiochian Archdiocese website

Your local parish community offers numerous opportunities to increase your prayer life, discipline your mind and body, and offer charity to others.  Please check your calendar of events at your parish for dates and times to attend such activities and services.

For a wonderful time spent during the Advent season find a book to read and slowly, but surely you will make your way through it(much like your Lenten journey). I suggest Fr. Thomas Hopko's The Winter Pascha. It is truly a blessed "benchmark" to return to daily as life gets more chaotic as you struggle through your Advent season.

Snow in Houston '09

- A Day in the Life of the Youth Director

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