Throughout our study of Colossians we have been talking about inhabiting stories, particularly finding ourselves in the great story of redemption and inhabiting it. Our celebration of Advent is one of the ways we help ourselves along in this endeavor.
Because Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection are the most important events in all of human history, it is not surprising that the Christian church has developed a special calendar to celebrate them. From the second to the sixth centuries A.D., the early church created the annual cycle of special seasons and festivals that we now know as the liturgical year: Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, Ascension, Pentecost. Like all calendars, this liturgical calendar tells a story—it places the life and ministry of Jesus at the center of the church’s worship, identity, and mission in a clear and unmistakable way.
From November 27 to Christmas Day, we celebrate Advent, inhabiting through Word, song and prayer the story of the incarnation. We remember the story of Israel longing for a Messiah to liberate her from sin, exile, and oppression. We sing and remember how Christ came to this earth a first time as a human infant to carry out this mission. Even as we focus on his first coming, Advent helps us remember that, like Israel, we too await the full and final liberation from sin and death that Jesus will accomplish when he returns for the second and final time.
Another aspect of Advent is preparation. Even in the first Advent, God was so good to soften the hearts of his people by sending a forerunner, John the Baptist, to prepare for the life-altering ministry of Jesus. This week we will think about this ministry of preparation, by looking at the role of John in Luke 1:13-17.