Christmas certainly is a day of joy, but as the Rev. Mark D. Roberts sees it, special pleasures can be found in Advent, the Christian season of reflection leading up to Dec. 25.

“There is an underlying sense of joy in the expectation,” said Roberts, who until recently was the longtime pastor of Irvine Presbyterian Church. By his own description, Roberts is an “Adventophile – a lover of Advent” and has written extensively on the subject.

“Advent,” he said, “is getting in touch with our own sense of yearning for God.”

Advent often is overshadowed by the pageantry – or commercialism – of Christmas, but some congregations, such as Irvine Presbyterian, are working to remind Christians of the significance of the four-week holy season, which for most of the 2 billion Christians worldwide begins Sunday. It’s also a time of beginnings. In the Western branch of Christianity, the new church year starts Sunday as well.

At the Irvine church on Sunday, congregants will begin using a devotional written by fellow parishioners especially for this year’s Advent journey.

“Often, we look at our calendar and realize that Christmas has almost arrived and we have yet to take a moment to truly reflect on the greatest gift we will receive this season, the reminder of Jesus’ earthly arrival as a tiny, helpless infant boy, who is our Savior,” Tiffany Elliott wrote in the booklet’s introduction.

Elliott also suggested that readers make time – even if it’s just 10 minutes a day – to reflect on God’s teachings and their relevance in their lives.


(from the the Los Angeles Times)

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