advent_annunciation botticelliWe are now in the season of Advent, a time of preparation for our Lord’s coming to earth, two millennia ago and in future.

How does that work and why? Advent readings are often gloomy or apocalyptic just as we are preparing for the happiest season in the Christian calendar.

A reflection from Calvin Theological Seminary’s Center for Excellence in Preaching explains the purpose of Advent (emphases mine):

The Church has traditionally begun the Season of Advent with apocalyptic passages about the end of history and Christ’s return for one very simple reason: if the events Jesus foretells (and forthtells) in Matthew 24 will never happen, then there is actually not much to celebrate surrounding his first arrival in Bethlehem. If Jesus is not coming back fully to usher in the kingdom of heaven that he preached about, then his original birth is drained of meaning too.

It ought not spoil anyone’s “Christmas spirit” if we spend the first Sunday in Advent pondering the ultimate things to which Jesus points. In a world as full of sorrows as this one, would it hurt to have a longing and an expectation for Christ’s Parousia [presence, Second Coming] and his ushering in a better day?  … We live in a world of hunger and want, of economic crises and incessant sorrow.

At Christmas of all times, how can we look at all that and not long for the second Advent of Jesus? If Christ is coming again, then and only then does his first Advent mean anything. In fact, then and only then Christ’s first arrival means flat out everything.

Below are links to my past posts on Advent which include a variety of resources and reveal why Christians place a heavy emphasis on charity at this time of year:

Advent resources for Catholics and Protestants

Advent reflections: John the Baptist and the Apocalypse

Advent: Make straight a highway

Advent: John the Baptist’s message of Good News — and repentance

Advent: a time to examine one’s conscience

Advent: Mary’s Magnificat and Zechariah’s prophecy in Luke 1

John the Baptist, charity and Advent

The Advent wreath: symbolism and history

Advent and Christmas in colonial America

I hope you find these helpful.