Sunday, Dec. 3 is the First Sunday of the Christian season of Advent.

For many centuries the Hebrew people of God awaited the Messiah, the One that would redeem God’s people. In similar fashion, we remember that sense of expectancy when we observe Advent.

The season of Advent begins on Dec. 3, and ends Dec. 24. With each Sunday, we move forward in the story leading to the birth of Messiah; the coming of God in human flesh, without sin or blemish. How amazing it is to realize that God’s promise to redeem humankind was made right after sin entered the world (See Genesis 3:15).

We already know how the story turns out, but the practice of expectancy; the joy of re-living the blessed event of Messiah’s birth, is always exciting. Our English word, remembrance, comes from the Greek word, anamnesis. Anamnesis literally means to re-live an event. This is more than just remembering. It is a deeply meaningful re-living that moves us to our very core.

Anamnesis keeps us from taking these events for granted. It keeps us from forgetting the real reason for the Holiday. The perfect gift of Messiah is the giving of God’s self to humankind. It is the event that brings heaven to earth: “And the Word (Jesus Christ) became flesh and lived among us.” (John 1:14. See also John 1:1-13)

It is important that this event be the center of our focus in this season. Material gifts are wonderful. They bring us the joy of giving and receiving, and we all enjoy the big, bright smiles of children on Christmas morning. But please don’t let the material objects become the focus of the Holiday. By the way, the word Holiday comes from the words Holy-Day.

Here is a prayer for the First Sunday of Advent: “Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.” (Book of Common Prayer 1979, page 211).

The congregation at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church wishes you a Grand Holiday Season!

Fr. David+

Rev. Dr. David Bridges is the pastor at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Grove. He can be reached at St. Andrew's worship service is at 10 a.m., every Sunday, and broadcast on KWXC 88.9 FM at noon on Thursdays and at 5 p.m. on Saturdays.