The Meaning of Advent

Lord Hylton

The English word comes from the Latin “adventus” meaning coming, as in the coming of the Anglo-Saxons to England.  Advent calendars are now fashionable. Is the opening of their little windows just something to increase children’s anticipation of exciting Christmas presents? Or could it be something more?

The Good-news is that God so loved the world and the people in it, that He sent his only beloved Son to share our life.  He did so when there was little sign of any repentance for the pride, greed, injustice and cruelty of the time, before John the Baptist had persuaded some to change their ways.

Jesus was born and came as an adult to the public sinners of the Jewish world, the lost sheep of the House of Israel.  He announced that God is always working in his world.  His Kingdom is available here and now, if we will accept it.  He gained Jewish followers and moved the hearts of a handful of others, a Samaritan, or a Phoenician women, a Roman centurion or two.

From this unique birth, this tiny mission in an obscure corner of the Roman empire, has come the most worldwide of all faiths; this is the faith that must preach God’s love, calling people everywhere to love him in return, and at the same time to love their neighbours as much as they cherish themselves.  This is why it is worth preparing for the coming of Jesus at Christmas.  Let us try to change the wickedness of the world by our love.

6 comments for “The Meaning of Advent

  1. 03/12/2014 at 7:34 pm

    Lord Hylton,
    Happy Advent to you. I sit here typing not far from the advent wreath and Jesse tree covered with aging ornaments made by children who now have children of their own. We compress our home advent a bit so it finishes up closer to an early Christmas of this era but still keep the wreath and Church ceremonies in proper timing. Otherwise there would only be few ornaments on the Jesse Tree.

    There are many reasons why church participation is low across much of Europe. The Poppies post reminds us of how World Wars One and Two (as we call them) shook the faith in Christendom. We who are Christians must face that reality without blaming our ancestors and excusing ourselves.

    Jesus was of course the son of an occupied people. But it is important to realize that Alexandria where he lived as a child exile was still the largest and richest city in the Greco-Roman world. Buddhist Missionaries, the Jewish Quarter and the Great Library made it a center of learning beyond all but a few that have ever existed. Jerusalem hosted two million pilgrims each year.

    Since William the Conqueror Britain has never known what it is like to be swept into this Empire or that. That is a truly singular achievement. I salute it. But it makes it hard for Brits to see much of the rest of history. In the real world Hohenzollerns, the Royal House of Hawaii and the Imperial House of Brazil are not sure they do not exist. The Son of David’s parents offered the offering of the ordinary and poor it is true but his family had priestly ties where they did so. ,He was crucified after teaching crowds and travelling in the company of armed sons of thunder and a zealot. Advent is a review of the Salvation History into which the Christ came. Literacy and education in Judea were at very high levels. In less prudish Galilee they had baths and gymnasia with some Jewish modesty which produced an effect not unlikable to Modern European senses. Only in the last 300 years can Britain claim to have achieved a culture as sophisticated as that in which the carpenter’s son grew up. The Jews were lending kings money in the era of Magna Carta and they had come down a long way in the world since Jesus was around. His relatives exported dye to royal courts everywhere. A sophisticated Christian must be humble enough to admit the chasms of cultural difference that make things hard to assess. This makes the wondrous appeal of the Gospel to so many of us the more amazing.

  2. Bill Jones
    04/12/2014 at 1:53 pm

    The only real reason for the expansion of the Christian ‘faith’ was the conversion of Constantine who realized its value for the unification of the Roman world All those outside it were cannibals
    who did not believe in transubstantiation.

    The Church of England has only one, possibly two, holy days of obligation, Xmas and Easter, compared with the 12 or more of the Catholic persuasion, but on Xmas eve there are said to be 12m adherents in Cof E churches.As a brown robe (regular not secular) Franciscan, I am one,

  3. 04/12/2014 at 4:43 pm

    Bother William,

    Good on you for filling the Churches of Christmas Eve. Low is a relative term — but low participation across much of Europe is not amoral judgment. The rest of this comment may be moralistic, ascerbic and remind you of why Christians slaughter each other but up till now I was not doing such things.

    Your argument is counterfactual, poppycock and vicious argument. Armenia was the first Christian country and was in large part outside of the Roman Empire. They were humbler and more competent men than most kings but Andrew had a seat and court in Anatolia to which Constantine moved his capital, Mark had such a court behind him in Alexandria and Peter in Rome. About thirty percent of Greek speaking residents of the Roman Empire were Christians, heretics (still honoring Christ as their Lord) or catechumens by the time Constantine converted. Nearly a tenth of the remaining Celtic Sovereigns had large Christian Communities and about a third of all Germans were Christian heretics. The Miracle in HOC SIGNO VINCES is the miracle that a Roman Emperor decided (not doubting his faith) that “if you can’t beat them join them” was a good philosophy. In addition Christians had reached India and entire types of Christians neither Orthodox, Catholic nor Evangelical existed in Persia which have somewhat to do with the origins of Islam but mostly died away.

    The God-fearers were a vast group across the Hellenic and near Hellenic communities of the world who studied Judaism and did not convert. They had largely dissolved under Christian influence into many groups of Christians, some new kinds of Jews and those who went ahead to Judaism. Christianity had changed completely a centuries old movement before Constantine. I like Constantine pretty well. I love the heritage of St. Francis and I even like some Anglicans. But Christianity burst forth under nobler conditions than you describe.

    Of course being of Germanic roots and Franciscan connections we all celebrate a Christmas much shaped by your traditions and I am sure you may keep as good a Christmas as I ever have. You may also be a bit sarcastic — that is a hard vice to forgive but I attempt it from time to time. Happy non-obligatory Advent to you …

  4. maude elwes
    05/12/2014 at 9:54 am

    Perhaps these versus from the book of Allah could change the world?

    Then there’s discussion through expanding time and logic for those who find the concept of faith disturbing.

    I have my advent calender, a pretty one, a gift of ‘Country Life.’

  5. MilesJSD
    06/12/2014 at 9:50 pm

    So in some real-life sense,
    rather than in manifoldly extended book after book of mere-words, about ‘key’-words,
    every day surely has its advents – every day brings some kind of ‘new shrift’, ‘new life’. ‘new experience’:-

    “New every morning is the love,
    our wakening and uprising prove;
    through sleep and darkness safely brought,
    restored to life, and power, and thought.

    “New mercies, each returning day,
    hover around us while we pray;
    new perils past, new sins forgiven,
    new thoughts of God, new hopes of heaven.

    “If on our daily course our mind
    be set to hallow all we find,
    new treasures still, of countless priced,
    God will provide for sacrifice. “

    At which we need to break in, to consider:
    (“) Each day we must break the body and shed the lifeblood of this Living Earth,
    simply in order to live.
    {“} When we do this with skill and loving-care, it becomes a Sacrament;
    But when clumsily and with blind disregard, it becomes a Blasphemy.{”}
    [ An Oliver Wendell Holmes guidance].
    And then arises the very-real-life Insidious-Issue concerning the mortally-neglected Seven Sacraments –
    which many including Caroline Myss [“Anatomy of the Spirit”] tell us are externally detailed,
    to revere the innate seven sacramental-centres and their energies, substantiated directly by God the Creator as vital ‘spiritually-organic’ parts of each and every human being.

    The pastoral somatopsychic ‘school’ [see David Boadella’s “Lifestreams”] asked, further,
    “So, what do these sacramental-energies actually do for us ?”
    Their answer appears to be
    1 Baptism – Root-chakra – ‘Grounds’ one;
    2 Confirmation – Hara – ‘Centres’ one;
    3 Communion – Solar-plexus – ‘Boundaries’ one;
    4 Marriage – Heart – ‘Bonds’ one [in many kinds of
    Relationship, not just marriage];
    5 Confession – Throat – ‘Sounds’ [‘Communicates’: NB Here
    ‘forgiveness’ is ‘conditional’];
    6 Ordination – ‘Third-Eye’ – ‘Faces’ one; [to one’s Inside world, and
    one’s outside world];
    7 Unction – ‘Spiritual’ – ‘Spaces’ one; [a ‘final-gate’ that locks
    with finality behind one – ‘unconditionally’].
    So when next we sing “O Come O Come Emmanuel”
    shall we pause for any split-second to think what, and of whom, we are Asking,
    even “Commanding” ?

    That [even by Definition] “God-Who-Is-Already-With-Us”
    needs to be loudly and trumpetously reminded to
    {but only late-in-time;

    nevertheless you should already Rejoice;
    because the ‘Ever-Present-God’
    will, in some not too distant future, come to you }
    [come Again?
    so why did Emmanuel leave us, then ?]

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