The season of celebrations has been here with us right from the Thanksgiving Day which was one of America’s major holiday. This comes up in November 24 through the Black Friday- a day after Thanksgiving Day when sales of products where at their highest peaks (See write up here). This continued with the Cyber Monday.
What is this Cyber Monday?
Cyber Monday is a term created by Marketing companies in order to persuade people to shop online. It was coined by Ellen Davis and Scott Silverman and made it made its debut on November 28, 2005 in a shop.org press release entitled “Cyber Monday”. This made it to become one of the Biggest Online Shopping Day of the year. During this period following the Black Friday, prizes of goods dropped too.
The Christian Calendar! What happens to it?
Although the Thanksgiving Day was a major celebration in the United States, the period brings an end to a very lengthy season of Pentecost or Trinity. This season takes about 26 – 28 weeks and culminates in Saint Andrew’s Day marked by every November 30. Saint Andrew’s Day usher in the beginning of a new dawn – a new Christian Calendar year which commences with the Advent.
What is Advent?
According to the dictionary, Advent is a noun that means ” the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event. It also means, the appearance, emergence, birth, rise, development of a person, thing or event. It could also mean the first season of the Christian Church Year, leading up to Christmas and including four preceding Sundays.
In Christian Theology, it means the coming or second coming of Christ. It is a season when Christians all over prepare for the coming of Our Lord Jesus Christ or a period when Christians are anxiously waiting or expectantly wait for the second coming of the Messiah. It is observed by many Churches as a period of waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity or birth of Jesus Christ at Christmas.
Advent is derived from the Latin word “Adventus” meaning “coming” or ‘visit”. Color used during this season is Purple signifying the royalty of Christ. At this period, four candles are placed on a stand and are lighted up, one at every Sunday until the four Sundays culminates which ushers in Christmas Day Celebration -The main reason for all the celebrations of the whole month.
This could also be the period when one at the wilderness was asking all men to repent and prepare the way for the coming of Our Lord as quoted here-under. The Gospel according to John 1: 1 – 23 states that; “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.
In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not comprehend it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man but of God.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the Only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. John bore witness of Him and cried out saying, “This was He of whom I said, He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.” And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ…. Now this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, who was you? He confessed and did not deny but confessed, I am not the Christ.: And they asked him, what then? Are you Elijah? He said, I am not….They said to him, who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself? He said: :I am “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Make straight the way of the Lord,” as the prophet Isaiah said.
Who was John?
The story of the birth of Jesus will be incomplete and inappropriate if a little history of John the Baptist is not highlighted or mentioned. John was regarded as the forerunner of Jesus Christ. The Gospel according to Luke 1: 3 to the end, we see the story of John the Baptist how the angel Gabriel met Zachariah his father while serving as a priest at the temple to give him the good news of having a child at his old age. Zachariah asked for a sign since he was advanced in age as well as his wife and the angel Gabriel told him he will be mute and not be able to speak until the day these things take place.
Why? Because he didn’t believe that at his age and that of his wife they could have a child again. But with God all things are possible and Elizabeth his wife became pregnant and she hid herself for five months.
When Elizabeth became six months pregnant, this same angel Gabriel was sent by God to Mary to a city of Galilee named Nazareth. She was a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph of the house of David. The angel announced to her: “Rejoice, Highly favored one, the Lord is with you, blessed are you among women”.
On seeing and hearing the angel, she was startled and troubled at his saying and considered what manner of greeting this was. Then he said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus, He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of his father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end”
Mary also asked the angel How can this be since I do not know a man (a virgin)” and the angel said to her “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. The angel went ahead to inform Mary of Elizabeth’s pregnancy and how old it was.
Then Mary succumbed to the message by saying: “She is the maidservant of the Lord, Let it be to her according to His word so he departed from her. And Mary decided to visit Elizabeth her cousin on hearing the news of her pregnancy at that age and Elizabeth reported that on hearing Mary’s greetings, the baby in her womb leaped and she was also filled with the Holy Spirit whereby she stated thus:
“Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb. But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord”
And Mary also eulogizes God by singing her praises to Him thus: My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; for behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed. For He who is mighty has done great things for me; and Holy is His name…
Mary soon after the angel ministered to her became pregnant so as she visited her cousin Elizabeth, we could see the drama that unfold, Elizabeth filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesying calling Mary the mother of her Lord should come to her. Mary spent three months with her cousin and when Elizabeth was due for delivery, she gave birth to John and according to their tradition on the eight day during circumcision and naming, the mother told the family members and neighbors that came around that he should be called John but they objected to it saying none of their relatives is known with such names but when his father was asked to state the name he wrote John and immediately he was loosened from the muteness and started praising God. But fear came upon those present and in all hill country of Judea and they questioned what kind of a child will this be? And the hand of the Lord was upon him.
It was at this time Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit and he prophesied and said “….And you child, will be called the prophet of the Highest; for you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways’ To give knowledge of salvation to His people by the remission of their sins, through the tender mercy of our God; with which the Dayspring from on high has visited us; To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death. To guide our feet into the way of peace”
So the child grew and became strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his manifestation to Israel. All these took place before Christ was born.
We can also see the space between Jesus and John the Baptist- just six months.
When does Christmas Celebration starts?
From December 1st all over the world, the roads of every streets, highways, major routes are decorated and Christmas music takes the tone of every songs and affairs including shops where these things are sold are always busy hence the above mentioned sales periods also emanates before the beginning of the season.
But the actual date of the celebration is every December 25th when the world celebrate the birth of Jesus. This celebration does not just commence with the people of the world, but angels first heralded this birth when they visited some shepherds that were keeping watch over their flocks by night.
The Bible stated in Luke 2:1: 40 That it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered in a census. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth into Judea to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife who was heavy with child. ( This was after he has been told in the dream to take Mary as his wife for that which is conceive in her is of the Holy Spirit. Joseph noticed that Mary was pregnant, and being just man who fears the Lord wanted to privily send her away but was warned by the angel. See Matthew 1:18-24 )
While they were there her time to deliver came and she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
So it was, there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!. So it was when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us”
And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph and the Babe lying in a manger. Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.
And when eight days were completed for the circumcision of the Child, His name was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb (See Matt.1:21; Luke 1:31).
So we can see from this lengthy passage that the celebration of this season is heavenly. God celebrated the gift of His son to mankind. Same thing Jesus did before His death, asking us to commune together in the breaking and eating of bread and drinking of the fruit wine which represent his body and blood and that whenever we do it in remembrance of Him.Luke 22:17-20: I Corinthians 11:24-26) It is an injunction, a command that has to be obeyed. So it is with the Great Commission(Matt.28:18 which says “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” Amen.
The Bible is clear concerning issues of life and it is left for us to discern the truth about God’s word and remain in it. I love this season because God showered us His Love by giving us His son. Look at the joy everyone experiences no matter the difficulties being faced around the world. The season comes with so much joy and jubilation, love is shared and shown all around the world. In the midst of uncertainties, the period showers blessings, peace, love, brotherhood, good neighborliness and what have you – gifts are given freely and laughter fills the air most especially the Christmas Songs/carols/musics are always a joyous thing to ones heart.
It is a season that breaks all barriers because everyone seizes the opportunity to make it during this season so sales of items and businesses booms in all parts of the world. Colors used is Gold or white hence the fifth candle which is white – lighting our darkness
Soon after the Christmas Day celebration comes the Epiphany. This falls on January 6 in which Christ was manifested to the world. This period marks the visit of the three wise kings to the baby Jesus. Epiphany as it can be seen celebrates two important feast in the Christian Calendar thus: First at birth when he was manifested to the world and second indicates the period of His baptism – in preparation for His ministry, temptation, betrayal, trial, death etc. Hence it is regarded as a period when converts are baptized. It is observed in solemnity , prayer and fasting.
This period stretches through eight or nine weeks of Epiphany and thereafter we proceed to the Lenten season which begins with the Ash Wednesday.
Let’s conclude this write-up with some Bible readings that correspond to these seasons: especially as we await the coming of the Lord, let’s see the warnings He personally gave to us while He was yet in the world as recorded in Mark 13: 3 – 37 and I quote: Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John and Andrew asked Him privately, Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign when all these things will be fulfilled?
And Jesus, answering them, began to say: “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, I am He, and will deceive many. But when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be troubled, for such things must happen, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be earthquakes in various places, and there will be famines and troubles. These are the beginnings of sorrows.
But watch out for yourselves, for they will deliver you up to councils and you will be beaten in the synagogues. You will be brought before rulers and kings for My sake, for a testimony to them. And the gospel must first be preached to all the nations. But when they arrest you and deliver you up, do not worry beforehand or premeditate what you will speak that; for it is not you who speak but the Holy Spirit. Now brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.
So when you see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet(Daniel 11: 31; 12:11), standing where it ought not (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let him who is on the housetop not go down into the house, nor enter to take anything out of his house. And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! And pray that your flight may not be in winter. For in those days there will be tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the creation which God created until this time, nor ever shall be.
And unless the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh would be saved, but for the elect’s sake, whom He chose, He shortened the days. Then if anyone says to you, Look, here is the Christ! or Look, He is there! do not believe it. For false christ and false prophets will rise and show signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. But take heed; see, I have told you all things beforehand.
But in those days, after that tribulation the sum will be darkened and the moon will not give its light; the stars of heaven will fall, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. And then He will send His angels and gather together His elect from the four winds from the farthest part of earth to the farthest part of heaven
Now learn this parable from the fig tree, when its branch has already become tender, and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also when you see these things happening, know that it is near- at the doors! Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away but My words will be no means pass away (v31).
But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is. It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work and commanded the doorkeeper to watch. Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming – in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning – lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!
Isaiah 7:14 says; Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.
Isaiah 9: 6-7 says: For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom. To order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.
Isaiah 11: 1 – 11 : There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots. The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord. His delight is in the fear of the Lord, And He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes , nor decide by the hearing of His ears but with righteousness He shall judge the poor….And in that day there shall be a Root of Jesse, who shall stand as a banner to the people; for the Gentiles shall seek Him, and His resting place shall be glorious…
Habakkuk 2: 2 – 3 – Then the Lord answered me and said: Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time; but at the end it will speak and it will not lie. Though it tarries wait for it. Because it will surely come, it will not tarry.
I’m wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas and wonder-filled New Year.
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