WHAT’S OLD IS NEW AGAIN
The word “Advent” is derived from the Latin word adventus, meaning “coming,” which is a translation of the Greek word parousia. Historians believe that from 300-500 AD, advent was a time to prepare new Christians with fasting, prayer, and penance for baptism which would take place during the feast of Epiphany in January. Later, Roman Christians used advent as a time to prepare for Christ’s arrival, but not his original arrival in a manger in Bethlehem. Romans thought of the advent season as a way to prepare for his second coming as judge of the world. It wasn’t until the Middle Ages that Christians specifically linked the advent season to Christmas.
Today, advent is celebrated on the four Sundays prior to Christmas and can be seen as a time of looking back and looking forward. The modern church looks back to the birth of the Messiah in Bethlehem just as Israel looked back at the end of the Old Testament on God’s deliverance from Egypt. In the same way, the modern church looks forward to Christ’s second coming and deliverance from evil as Israel looked forward to God’s deliverance into the Promised Land.
During this tumultuous year, advent becomes even more important as a season for Christians to still their hearts and minds for the birth of Christ and his eventual return as judge. With this in mind, the Moore Methodist Museum will honor the preparations with a daily post on its Facebook page which will include one of the many nativities from the South Georgia Conference collection with a reading from Luke 2:1-21. We pray that this will help you prepare your hearts and minds for the birth of the Savior and his return as King while also remembering how this simple story has changed the world. Please notice that the nativities come from many different places, use many different materials, and look very different from each other and, yet, are seen as being part of our family – no matter what our family may look like. Please check in every day from November 29 through December 24 to honor the season with the Ministry of Memory.
So, it’s time to prepare for the birth of light in the season of darkness and the coming of unimaginable faith, hope, and love.
Anne Packard serves as Conference Historian and director of the Arthur J. Moore Methodist Museum on St. Simons Island. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.