Ask A Pastor
By Pastor Beverly Kahle
St Paul’s UCC, Nashville
How do you celebrate Advent?
Advent, like Lent, is a season of the church found in the liturgical calendar.
Not all churches celebrate or use the liturgical calendar, but for those that do, this is the four weeks prior to the season of Christmas.
The liturgical Christmas season, unlike the shopping season, is the twelve days from the birth of Christ until Epiphany (January 6 – the day that is designated for the arrival of the wise men).
Advent is the beginning of the liturgical church year. The church year closes with Christ the King Sunday which reminds us and anticipates the coming of Jesus to establish his kingdom on this earth.
This four week period between Christ the King Sunday and Christmas Day, is a time of preparation. We prepare for the coming king. We look with anticipation to that time when Christ our Savior will indeed set the world free from the pain of sin. And, we resolve to participate in making the coming kingdom real on earth now.
So in this context, Advent is a time of reflection much like Lent, but it is also a time for preparation. For me, I use Advent to remind me of the connection between the baby whose birth will soon be celebrated and the man whose death brought me new and eternal life. This leads me to be thankful for the wonderful gift that God has given and propels me to find ways to share that gift of life with others – through prayers, visits, and other expressions of concern and justice.
Oftentimes that means buying a present for someone that I don’t know or volunteering in some way or giving a monetary donation to worthy causes and those in need. This helps me to remember that I am already blessed with more than I need and helps me to be grateful to God.
These activities also serve as concrete ways that live out the coming Kingdom of Christ where all will have enough. They prepare me to live outside of myself and to be a part of the community of Christ.
So, yes, this time before Christmas can be filled with shopping and parties and gatherings with friends and family, but at the center is Christ and making sure that he remains my focus and hope. I hope you will join me in keeping Christ at the heart of not only Advent, but every day.