Evelyn Francis Capel in one of her books ‘The Christian Year,’ explained that the ‘spiritual rhythm of the year is experienced and observed in sacred practices, which have their place in human life.’ According to Capel, ‘religious rites were performed in harmony with the changing relations of earth, sun and stars throughout the year in the ancient times.’ The development since the beginning of Christian era points to ‘the festivals honouring the coming of Christ, His death and His rising again, have likewise been held in accordance with the seasons.’
The reflection is that, the coming of Jesus Christ became the turning point of human history with new direction for our salvation as described in the Bible. Jesus ‘brought the source of new spiritual life and power, choosing for its shrine the inner place within the souls of men’ and women. The coming of Jesus Christ beyond the Church’s Year is about the change in the whole nature of human spiritual life unlike when the earlier men and women who found the divine presence outside themselves, shining down to them from the Heavens above and reflected back to them from the surrounding world of Nature.’ The coming of Jesus Christ empowers us to hear the still small voice speaking from within through ‘the indwelling Spirit to human souls on earth and in so doing changed the state of their whole existence.’
Hope in Jesus Christ is beyond the Church’s Year in relation to the cycle of festivals that ‘begins at Advent and passes, in the winter half of the year, through Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter and Ascension. At Whituntide, as the first is completed, the second begins, and the summer festivals of St John’s tide and Michaelmas follow.’ Christianity beyond a finished product of the past or present is ‘a living growing faith with a long future before it, which is due for an important phase of development in the present.’ The reflection is that the content of Advent is not all to be found in looking back because ‘no Christian festival is only filled with the resemblance of what one has been.’
The contribution of Professor Tom Wright in one of his books ‘Advent for Everyone: A Journey with the Apostles’ resonates with Capel’s explanation on the content of Advent. According to Wright, ‘the early Christians developed the church’s year as a way of telling, learning and reliving the story of Jesus which stands at the heart of our faith.’ Wright explained that the early Christians ‘came to understand that it wasn’t simply a matter of going round and round the same sequence and never getting anywhere.’ Wright’s reflection is that, it is possible to go through the church’s year and never getting anywhere.
Wright’s example of bicycle wheel is very helpful. According to him, ‘think of a bicycle wheel, it goes round and round, but it is moving forwards, not standing still. The same circuit around the hub of the wheel becomes part of the forward movement of the bicycle as a whole. So it is with the church’s year.’ The circuit of Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Holy Week and Good Friday, Easter, Pentecost beyond the church’s year invites us to ‘signing on as part of God’s larger project, God’s forward purposes, his plans for the whole creation to be renewed, so that (as the prophets said) the earth will be full of the knowledge and glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.’
The Advent hope beyond the church’s year is about the second coming of Jesus when God’s joining together of heaven and earth in Jesus Christ will be complete. Are you preparing for this Great event or are you just going through the routing and motions of the church’s year and never getting anywhere? This year’s Advent may be a new beginning for you through your true repentance and renewal of your hope in Jesus’ Second Coming thereby living between the first and the Second Advent as a true follower of Jesus Christ. True repentance and hope in Jesus’ Second Coming ‘strengthens us to work for signs of that kingdom in our own day.’ The need of our nation today is to pray and work for signs of God’s kingdom. Be a part of ‘Advent people.’
Prayer; O Lord, humble and open the eyes of your people and the church to be ‘Advent people.’
You can follow my daily Advent reflection on my Facebook page – Ayodeji Okegbile.