Today we begin the season known as “Advent.” The word appropriately means “coming” in Latin, as we anticipate the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Though no one’s really sure when the tradition started, we know it was celebrated in the sixth century, when Christian monks joyfully fasted in the weeks leading up to Christmas to mark the three different “comings” of Christ: in the flesh in Bethlehem, into our hearts daily, and His return at the Second Coming.

Today, our traditions may be a little different. Some people keep an Advent calendar, a daily reminder of the countdown of the Christ story. Some light candles each Sunday, leading up to a center candle on Christmas Eve. At Vancouver Church, we will light the Advent Wreath at our 9am gathering. Each lighting highlights a different part of the Christmas story. First, our expectation of HOPE based on God’s promise of the Messiah, second for PEACE as we prepare our hearts to receive Him, third the anticipated JOY of His coming, and fourth the REVELATION as we celebrate the announcement of the royal birth of the King. On Christmas Eve we’ll light the white Christ Candle in the middle of the wreath, as a symbol of the promises of God fulfilled in human form, lying in a manger.

Advent is a reminder of what God did in Bethlehem to fulfill his promise of sending a Savior! In the midst of Black Friday sales, tree decorations, family celebrations, office parties, gift exchanges, and church activities, let’s use everything we can to remember this is the count-down to His coming. May the coming of Christ fill your hearts, your homes, and all of God’s church this Advent season!

Larry Whittlesey, Community Pastor, The 9