Written by The Very Rev. Mark A. Engel - Gateway Church
A Childlike Advent
Growing up in a small, Ohio village with a rich, German heritage, the advent wreath was always a part of our seasonal celebrations, both in church and in our family home. Terri and I continued that traditional, family practice in our home with our children as they grew.
I must admit, that as I reflect upon my own experience of this practice as a child, my mindset was, perhaps understandably, childish. While we read the appropriate Scriptures and prayed the appropriate prayers, the lighting of the candles was, in my view, a countdown to Christmas that focused on the soon to appear presents under the tree and the delicious, big family meal (both of which I still enjoy each year!). My focus was more on the fun aspects of celebrating the Christmas holiday (including the story of that first Christmas) than on a heightened expectancy at the hope and joy of Christ’s future appearing.
Now, like Paul, I am endeavoring to “…put away childish things.” (1 Corinthians 13:11 – NKJV) Rather, I am aspiring to a more childlike advent season. Allow me to explain.
As a child, we lived on the north edge of town on the state route that bisected our village. My father, along with several of our neighbors, carpooled daily to work at the railroad terminal in the small town 4 miles north. Many late afternoons after school, I would wait in our front yard, watching for the carpoolers to appear and my father’s return home hoping for a quick game of “catch” in the front yard before supper. I waited and watched, hoped for and anticipated my father’s return. That is the heart attitude and focus of thought that I desire for this year’s season of advent. I want to be a believer in Christ who waits and watches with hope-filled anticipation of our Savior’s return! Lord, let me be numbered among the saints “…who have loved his [Jesus] appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:8 – ESV)
Will you join me in a prayerful longing that our hearts and minds will be rightly focused this advent season. Let us have hearts and minds that joyfully celebrate the reality of His first-appearing in the flesh and that expectantly look for His second-appearing in glory…“Maranatha – Come, Lord Jesus!”