Advent -

"We Christians hold a great festival during the winter solstice, the shortest days of the year. We call this festival "Christmas" meaning the "feast of Christ." It takes several weeks to prepare and several weeks to celebrate.

The weeks of preparation are called Advent-the season of growing darkness before the solstice. The weeks of celebration are called Christmastime-the season of growing light after the solstice. Perhaps it comes down to something basic: We are children of light.

Of course, Advent cannot exist if we jump the gun on Christmas. And Christmastime cannot exist if we are already tired of it by December 25. These two seasons require each other. Only after the silence of Advent can the carols of Christmastime spring. Only after Advent's darkness can a single star give so much cheer. Only after Advent's terror can an angel be heard, once again, telling us to "fear not." Year after year, we so genuinely need these seasons as rehearsal for heaven.

This festival of the winter solstice-this "feast of Christ"-does more than lead us from one year to another. In the power of Christ, Advent and Christmastime lead us from time into eternity."

from "Keeping Advent and Christmastime," © 1996, LTP