Why Baptists should celebrate Advent
    November 27 2017 by J.R. Parks, Guest Column

    As we approach this wonderful time of the year, many Protestants and Catholics are preparing to celebrate the season of Advent. Many Baptists, however, are unfamiliar with the tradition, and thus are left wondering what Advent is and why we should celebrate it.
    The word advent finds its roots in Latin and simply means “coming.” Since at least the fourth century, Christians have been celebrating Advent as a time to remember Christ’s first coming and to look forward to his second coming.
    The season begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas – this year, it is Dec. 3 – and continues to Christmas Day. During this time, various practices include fasting, reading selected scripture passages, guided prayers and hymn singing.
    One popular custom that spans time and denominations is the use of light, particularly candles, as a central feature of the celebration. Lighting candles each Sunday, often positioned in an evergreen wreath, marks the coming of the “Light of the World” and calls attention forward to the time when that Light will return to make all things new.
    The practice makes use of four candles to mark the four weeks of Advent, lighting one the first Sunday, two the second and so on. Some include a fifth candle, called the Christ candle, in the middle of the wreath that is lit on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.
    The simple visual representation builds excitement and hope as each week brings us closer to the celebration of Christmas and more light is added to the room. Baptists began to accept the celebration of Christmas around the mid-1800s, embracing seasonal items such as Christmas trees as they joined other Christians in celebrating Christ’s first coming to earth.
    Yet, many still view Advent as part of high-church tradition, associated with Catholics and mainline Protestants, although more Baptists, particularly Southern Baptists, have begun to celebrate this season in the last few decades.
    LifeWay Christian Resources now offers multiple Advent devotionals and guides, even selling Advent-related candles and other supplies.
    Personally, I began to lead my family in the celebration of Advent a few years ago, and I found it very beneficial. The month of December is a very busy time for many people, filled with shopping, decorating, preparing for Christmas and attending holiday parties. My family has welcomed daily Advent devotionals as an opportunity to slow down, light the candle(s) and spend time reading scripture and singing hymns to remind us of the reason for all the busyness of the season.
    I hope this year you will consider joining Christians around the world as we celebrate our King who has come and is coming again. Grab some candles and a Christmas wreath for your table, find a resource to guide your devotional times and lead your church or your family as we remember – Christ has come, and He is coming again!
    (EDITOR’S NOTE – J.R. Parks is a deacon at Front Street Baptist Church in Statesville, N.C., and a co-host of Potluck Podcast: SBC.)

    Click here to visit the Biblical Recorder's Advent page.


    11/27/2017 2:15:27 PM by J.R. Parks, Guest Column | with 0 comments

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