LESSON #1 – WHAT IS THE HISTORY OF ADVENT?
Show this movie….thanks to Adam McLane for the referral
WHAT HAS BEEN THE MEANING OF CHRISTMAS AS PRACTICED IN YOUR FAMILIES? WHAT ARE SOME OF THE TRADITIONS YOU HAVE EXPERIENCED?
Talk about consumerism and how it has taken over not only the original meaning of Christmas but many other holidays.
WHAT IS THE POINT OF CHRISTMAS?
We live in a time where the original meaning of Christmas is trumped by people spending insane amounts of money to “keep up with the Jones'” and make sure little Johnny and Sally have what they want. This past year we had a record Black Friday where the National Retail Federation reported we spent close to $52 billion through Sunday (SOURCE).
DO YOU REMEMBER ALL THE TOYS AND THINGS YOUR PARENTS HAVE BOUGHT YOU?
Most of the time we don’t remember what our parents purchased for us and we spend more time using what we have now and then moving on to the “next best thing.” Surely this was not the original intention of Christmas. The original Christmas was about a moment when the people of Israel anticipated the coming of the Messiah.
Read and discuss Messianic passages like 2 Samuel 7:16; Daniel 9:24-26; Isaiah 7:14; 11:10; 40:1-5, 9; 49:6; 50:6; Jeremiah 23:5; Micah 5:1-2.
DO WE CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS IN A WAY IN WHICH WE TALK ABOUT THE MESSIAH? WHY OR WHY NOT?
The Christian calendar is a tool that allows Christians to move through the year focusing on different seasons of Scripture. This time of the year is what is called “Advent” and has been focused on for many years. The word “advent” comes from the Latin word adventus meaning coming and stems from the New Testament Greek word parousia which focused on the Second Coming of Jesus (cf. 1 Thess. 5:1-11). The point was for Christians to focus on the birth of Jesus Christ this time of the year like the early Jews did. Advent is about anticipation and being vigilant and sober for the second coming of Christ (1 Thess. 5:6, 8). The early Jews were vigilant and sober for the first coming of Christ (i.e. Messiah) as he would right all wrongs and establish justice to those who were oppressed and his kingdom would reign forever.
Dennis Brown, in his lovely article “The Christian Season of Advent,” shares these splendid thoughts about advent:
In this double focus on past and future, Advent also symbolizes the spiritual journey of individuals and a congregation, as they affirm that Christ has come, that He is present in the world today, and that He will come again in power. That acknowledgment provides a basis for Kingdom ethics, for holy living arising from a profound sense that we live “between the times” and are called to be faithful stewards of what is entrusted to us as God’s people. So, as the church celebrates God’s inbreaking into history in the Incarnation, and anticipates a future consummation to that history for which “all creation is groaning awaiting its redemption,” it also confesses its own responsibility as a people commissioned to “love the Lord your God with all your heart” and to “love your neighbor as yourself.”
So Advent, and its history, is about the who (Jesus came and will come), the what (incarnational kingdom-living) and the to-what-extent (until the new heavens and the new earth). Different things are done on advent like feasts, fasts and special services all of which are not the means to an end but merely a way of praising God for what he has done and will continue to do.
WHAT ARE SOME WAYS CHRISTMAS COULD BE BETTER CELEBRATED BY CONCENTRATING ON ADVENT? WHAT ARE SOME PRACTICAL THINGS YOU AND I NEED TO DO?
CLOSE THE LESSON IN SILENCE, PRAYING FOR BOTH JESUS TO COME BUT THAT WE WOULD ACTIVELY PARTICIPATE IN THE STORY OF REDEMPTION OF THE WORLD’S BROKEN PEOPLE.