Advent is a time of promise, fulfillment, anticipation and preparation. No, I am not referring to the decorations, parties and gifts that keep us busy this season, I am writing about the original Advent, the centuries spent waiting for Jesus, the Messiah.
It is said that the word Advent in ancient times referred to a forthcoming visit from a king or other important person (the Latin ad venire means “to come to”). When Christians began celebrating the Feast of the Nativity in the late fourth century, the coming of the King of Kings, the word Advent was chosen to describe the time of preparation for the feast day.
On the First Sunday of Advent, Jeremiah, the reluctant prophet, emphasizes the theme of anticipation when he says “The days are coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and Judah.”
Prophets always spoke in contemporary terms. For them the Messiah or Anointed One would be a descendant of David, the ideal King. The “shoot” or offspring of the House of David would have the attributes of his ancestor and “do what is right and just in the land”.
That Latin word venire is part of another important Advent theme, Covenant, which is a combination of the Latin co (together) and venire (to come) because the first Advent was a time of awaiting fulfillment of God’s covenant binding Him to Israel.
“My mercy is established forever; my faithfulness will stand as long as the heavens. I have made a covenant with my chosen one; I have sworn to David my servant: I will make your dynasty stand forever and establish your throne through all ages.” (Psalm 89:3-5)
We are going to look to the prophets and the Psalms to discover how promise, covenant, anticipation and preparation described the hopes of God’s chosen people during their centuries of waiting.
Reading the prophets and Psalms as we prepare to celebrate the coming of the King of Kings will enable us to experience some of the feelings of those who experienced the First Advent.