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CHURCH NOTES: What do we mean by Advent?

Why do we celebrate Advent?

Is it about eating more chocolate every day in December? Giving a small gift every day up to Christmas?

I remember my mum used to do that for my sister and I when we were very young.  Typically, it was a rubber or pencil sharpener something small enough to fit into a matchbox.  It was a time of excited anticipation.

The word originated from the Latin “Adventus” meaning “Coming”. The dictionary states “the arrival of a notable person.”

Originally it was 40 days for a period of preparation, penance and fasting for the baptism of new Christians at the feast of epiphany in January and not connected with Christmas at all. It was in the 6th century that Roman Christians linked Advent with the coming of Christ.  

They had in mind not the coming of Christ to Bethlehem in a manger, but the second coming of Christ when he will come to judge the world.  

Revelation 22:7 says “behold I am coming soon!” and he will come. When Jesus left this earth, it was said, “He will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11).  

There are so many Old Testament prophesies that have been fulfilled with the first coming of Christ at Christmas which are well accepted, so there is no reason why the New Testament prophesies of Christ’s second coming again will not also be fulfilled.

This Advent period provides an opportunity to look both backwards and forwards.

Backwards to the birth of Christ, his first coming and forwards to Christ’s second coming.  Which way will we be looking?

Ralph Higson of Norreys Church on behalf of Churches Together in Wokingham

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