Click here for English version
將臨期是從最接近 11 月 30 日的那個主日開始計算，持續四個星期，雖然排在慶祝耶穌基督降生的聖誕節之前，但計算上卻不包括聖誕節的。在這段較長的時期，我們可以在禱告和靈修中主動地回想，主耶穌降世為人與自己有甚麼關係。
Advent —— A Holy Season without Holiday
Rev Arnold Chow
There are many products on the market about the Advent season – small gift items, herald angel designs… But make no mistake. They are not what the Advent is about, just like Christmas is not about Santa Claus and Christmas trees. Advent is all about the birth of Jesus Christ and His second coming. You may ask: Why do we need Advent when we already have Christmas to celebrate Christ's birth? Moreover, this one comes with no holiday.
A scholar has aptly said that the liturgical calendar is established not for bringing a few rest days, although public holidays are a welcome by-product, and we do not mind a break from our tight schedules. The purpose of the liturgical calendar is to let believers recount, commemorate and give thanks to God's redemption through Jesus Christ. Simply, the holy season is all about Jesus.
It is not easy to direct people's thoughts and attention from a holiday culture to Christ. Christmas in popular culture has always been about consumption, parties and travel. Frankly, much though that we know in our mind that Christmas should be Christ-centered, our heart and body may not be willing to follow. The ancient church set up Advent not for ceremonial reasons, but for reflection and repentance of sins to prepare for the celebration of the birth of Christ, in eager expectation of the day of His return. This is what today's Christians need to practice more.
Advent begins on the Sunday closest to November 30. It lasts for four weeks before Christmas, not including Christmas Day. Advent gives us sufficient time to reflect through prayer and devotional on what the birth of Christ means to each one of us.
The four thematic messages of Advent are: hope, peace, joy and love. These are all centered on the grace brought by the Lord Jesus. Compared to Lent which comes before Easter, these themes can more explicitly bring out the message that Christ is the true light of the world. Suffering communities will, more than ever, look forward to His second coming to drive away the darkness.
As members of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, we never forget that we live in between the first and second coming of our Lord Jesus. We proclaim Christ as our Savior and the coming King. In this Advent season, I encourage you to ponder on your relationship with Christ. Reflect also on whether you are His good and faithful servant, and whether you are like the 10 wise virgins who are ready for His coming.
How do we prepare? The answer is in the following lines from a hymn by Dr. A. B. Simpson. See if you can get its meaning:
The Master's coming draweth near;
The Son of Man will soon appear;
His Kingdom is at hand.
But ere that glorious day can be,
This gospel of the kingdom we
Must preach in every land,
Must preach in every land.