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While many churches no longer observe the season of Advent, its observance can bring many blessings to those who take the time to consider the Scriptural message which is the focus of this season in the church year.

Advent begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas -- this coming Sunday -- and is often associated with all the preparations for Christmas celebrations, but its real focus is on spiritual preparations for the advent or coming of Christ, not just His first coming as a babe born in Bethlehem, but especially His return as the Judge of the living and the dead. Thus, Advent is a penitential season in the church year, a time when special attention is placed upon repentance and faith in Christ, the Savior and Judge of all the earth.

Purple is the traditional color for the season -- a color of penitence but also the color of kingly robes like that which Herod placed upon Jesus before He was sentenced to death upon the cross. Some churches use blue -- also a royal color -- as a reminder that Christ will soon appear in the sky on clouds of glory to judge all mankind. Advent wreaths, too, use violet and rose colors.

The season and the colors are a reminder to us of the Biblical doctrine that Jesus is the LORD God Himself in the flesh, who came into this world to redeem us and who is coming again as King of kings and Lord of lords to judge this world and establish His everlasting kingdom in which only righteousness dwells.

Scripture readings traditionally read and expounded upon by ministers focus on Christ's second coming, His judgment and being ready for His advent by repenting of the sin in our lives and placing our faith in God's mercy and forgiveness for the sake of Christ Jesus and His blood shed upon the cross to atone for the sins of all mankind. Biblical preaching in the season calls upon all to examine themselves, repent of the sin and evil in their lives and place their faith and hope solely in the redemption accomplished by Christ Jesus at His first advent into this world.

And, indeed, when one considers Christ's imminent coming and our shortcomings and utter sinfulness, confessing our sins and looking to Christ Jesus in faith for mercy and pardon is the only fitting response.

Though many churches no longer sing the ancient hymns of the Advent season, I find it amazing to join in the praises of all believers of all times for the God who both created us and sent His only-begotten Son into this world a true man to redeem us and save us from the sinful mess we have made of our lives and of His creation. After all, the Bible describes the prayers and praises of the saints (believers in Christ) rising like incense before His throne (Revelation 5).

During Advent, we sing "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" -- a hymn of waiting for the advent of Emmanuel, the son of David and Son of God, God with us -- which has been sung by believers for more than a thousand years. We sing "Savior of the Nations, Come" -- speaking of God sending His Son into the world as the virgin-born Savior to redeem fallen mankind -- attributed to Ambrose of Milan, who lived from 340-397 A.D.

We also sing Johann Horn's hymn from the early 1500s, "Once He Came in Blessing." The first and last of those verses read: "Once He came in blessing, all our sins redressing; came in likeness lowly, Son of God most holy; bore the cross to save us; hope and freedom gave us ... Come, then, O Lord Jesus, from our sins release us. Keep our hearts believing, that we, grace receiving, ever may confess You till in heav'n we bless You."

Randy Moll is the managing editor of the Westside Eagle Observer. He may be contacted by email at Opinions expressed are those of the author.

Editorial on 11/29/2017

Print Headline: Advent is here: What's it all about?

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