2018-12-21 / Chaplain's News

In preparation for Christmas

CHAPLAIN’S CORNER
Chaplain (Col.) David M. Lockhart
7th Signal Command (Theater)

In preparation for Christmas Day, some merchants begin promoting their Christmas products in October. There are other retailers that wait to promote their Christmas products until after Thanksgiving. The economics of Christmas can cause even Christians to become too focused on shopping for holiday celebrations to commemorate the birth of the Christ child. The Advent season, which begins the fourth Sunday before Christmas, prevents such commercialism through the rituals of fasting and prayer. Advent is a special time of the year and has a special meaning for all Christians.

Advent derives from the Latin word “adventus,” meaning “coming.” In the 1994 Revised Common Lectionary, Advent is the first season of the Christian liturgical year. It is a time of preparing and waiting for the coming of the Christ child. Christians who prepare and wait for the coming of the Christ child are no different from parents who prepare and wait for the birth of a child. These parents reshape and redefine their lives, because they want to be the best possible parents. And this is the same reason that Christians prepare for the coming of the Christ child: They want to be the best followers of Christ possible.

Advent is the season of the year that prepares Christians to be the best they can be for Christ, providing space for spiritual reflection on missteps and shortcomings to experience transformation. The spiritual resources that Christians employ during Advent to transform while waiting on the coming of the Christ child are fasting and prayer.

In Psalm 35:13, the purpose of fasting is to humble oneself. When Christians fast during Advent to experience transformation, they do so to humble themselves before God, believing in God’s power to transform. Fasting is humbling oneself before God, and humbling oneself before God is approaching God as an empty vessel. It is coming to God not only empty but broken and in need of God’s empowerment.

Christians can pray without fasting, but Christians cannot experience an authentic fast without prayer. It is through the spiritual resource of prayer that Christians in need of transformation seek God to receive help. The prayers of Christians, in the Advent season, affirm faith in the truth of God’s promise to hear those who believe that what they ask in prayer they receive. In the season of Advent, Christians pray to God for spiritual transformation, and even though the flesh suffers the hunger pangs of fasting, Christians pray with joy in anticipation of the newborn King.

The economics of the Advent season encourage Christians to focus on shopping and exchanging gifts for self-gratification. But Christians have the spiritual resources of fasting and prayer to stand against the economics of Advent. There is no thought for worldly possessions while fasting and praying.

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