Sunday, December 07, 2008

Advent is Good News

Baptists have not traditionally observed Advent, a part of the Christian church’s liturgical year, but a number of Baptist churches have started to recognize the value of using this observance to prepare their members for Christmas. I have found Advent to be a personal spiritual discipline by which I can both consider the importance of Christ’s coming to our own lives and gain a proper perspective in the overly commercialized season.

Having children or grandchildren allows us to regain the wonder of the story of the birth of the Christ Child. My four-year-old granddaughter, Erin, likes to take the flannel Nativity scene that my wife bought last year and “tell” the Christmas story. I try not to edit her narrative too much at this point. Like most of us, she struggles to know what to do with Joseph. She adds her own touches such as naming the donkey “Josh” and deciding that the shepherd and the Wise Men had a sleepover to help take care of the baby.

The only correction I have provided so far is about the angel. She started out the other day saying, “This is the angel, and he is coming to bring bad news.” I gave a quick theological insight that angels are messengers from God, and they bring good news. (I selectively ignored all those wrathful angels in the Old Testament and Revelation.) I further suggested that the birth of the baby Jesus was good news. She agreed to that assessment (and getting her to agree to anything is a major success).

The lesson for me is that sharing the story of the good news of Jesus’ coming is something we can do with family, friends, and strangers this Advent season. People still need good news wherever they can find it.

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