Season of Advent

With the First Sunday in Advent, we begin a new Christian Year, not as we do our secular year on New Year's Eve; rather, we begin the new Christian Year in a more solemn fashion, similar to Lent.

With the adoption of Advent in the sixth century, the intent of the Western Church was not a second Lenten Season, but a period of liturgical preparation for Christmas. It was not until the eighth century that Advent was commonly considered the beginning of the Christian Year.

Historically, the Christian Year had several "beginnings." Initially, Easter Day was considered the start of the Christian Year, a practice that is still maintained in the Eastern Churches.

In the fourth century, the Western Church adopted Christmas Day as the beginning of the Christian Year; however, four centuries later, Advent had replaced Christmas as the beginning of the Christian Year, with the focus on the preparation not only for the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, but also on the Second Coming at the end of time.

That Second Coming we tend to look toward with a sense of fear and dread. Indeed, we do have second thoughts when it comes to being judged for how we have conducted our lives in this world. Fearful not only of being judged for what we have done, but also for what we have failed to do.

It is the first Coming that we celebrate each year with joy: joy that God entered into the world, taking upon Himself our flesh and living among us in the form of a man in order to redeem us from Satan, sin, and certain death.

And so we can see in the four week period of Advent the joyful expectation of the birth of Christ, and the redemption that comes to us through His Incarnation, while at the same time reflecting in awe on the judgment that still awaits us.