This is an exercise in the art of growing with the changing seasons, that we may continue to grow, and to change.
The first exercise is the hardest: forgetting those things that are left behind…those unfinished stragglers, those closeted dreams, those boxed disappointments, those scraps of paper illusions, in order to press into the promise of His Coming.
remnants of autumn found on a recent walk
In Mark’s gospel John the Baptist warns us that something BRAND NEW IS COMING. The world as we know it will yield to the Reign of God and will require spiritual changes, some big, others small and seemingly insignificant. More importantly, John announces that SOMEONE NEW IS COMING who will FOREVER change human history.
We celebrate Advent (L. adventus, or coming) as the liturgical beginning of a New Year, while we normally view this as ending the calendar year. Beginnings and endings run together and often collide on life’s timeline.
The JESSE TREE is also a popular Advent tradition. A Jesse Tree, named for the father of David, is a tree that is decorated gradually throughout Advent with symbols or pictures of biblical persons associated with the gradual coming of the Messiah, Christ. This also includes, among others, Joseph, Noah, Abraham, and Moses.
ADVENT CALENDARS have little windows counting the days leading up to Jesus’ birth, most often following the calendar month of December, not the four Sundays which can begin in November.
A visiting preacher once described a wonderful pattern of growth:
“Healthy things grow, growing things change, change brings pain, pains causes a healthy, wholesome reliance on God, so that we may continue to grow tall in Grace, until we reach maturity in Christ”.
Cycles, circles, seasons are the normal pathways to growth, naturally and supernaturally.
Christian calendars mark these cycles of birth, death and resurrection, and call us into seasons of preparation in Lent and Advent. They give us opportunity to stop our striving, step into the new cycle, and to steep ourselves in the truths each season represents.
Advent is a season that causes us to look forward with hope at the One Who is Coming, the One who changes everything, the flesh and blood One who will be born among us, the Son who will be given to us this Christmas as our own “Unspeakable Gift”.
And when He, the beautiful Christmas Rose, comes, Life will never be the same. Everything and everyone will be exposed in Him, the True light, that lights every man who comes into the world.
We are those who look for His appearing in the final season of Advent. How different will that Second Coming be…(2nd Peter 3:8-15). The Father alone knows when that secret season will cover the earth.
Meanwhile, we keep our lamps of welcome burning to greet our coming King, clothed now in the humility of a little child.