Advent is the opposite of Lent. The word Lent means “lengthening of days.” Days get longer in the spring until they blossom into summer. During Advent the days get shorter until we come to the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year.
Christmas was originally celebrated on the winter solstice until an adjustment to the calendar dislocated the two events. During these weeks leading up to Christmas, the days get shorter and shorter. It does something to the psyche. This is true not only for those with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
As I write this blog, it is three o’clock in the afternoon, and the sun is hugging the skyline in its rush to the other side of the earth. Furthermore, it is cold outside. It puts me in a pensive mood. I could call it Seasonal Advent Disposition.
It makes me yearn to see God in all his glory the way I yearn for summer in winter. It makes me want to sing the carol “In the Bleak Midwinter,” even though technically winter does not even start until the twenty-first of December.
On the first Sunday in Advent I always select hymns in minor keys to be sung in worship. It starts the season of Advent on the right note. I choose hymns like “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” and “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence.” It fits this twilight season.
When Christ was born, people were yearning for the Messiah. Their lives were lived in a minor key. The Bible speaks about a man named Simeon (probably about my age) who “was waiting for the Consolation of Israel.” The Gospel says of him “And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.”
Simeon had the unique privilege of holding the Christ child in his arms when Jesus was only a few weeks old. Scripture says “he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said: ‘Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation.’”
That is the way feel during Advent. I feel blessed to know Christ in my lifetime. Though I know him only in Spirit and not in flesh, I often feel like I am face to face with him, like Simeon gazing into the eyes of the infant Messiah. But it is still an earthly view.
One day this twilight world will fade, and the dawn will come. Then I, and all who love his appearing, will see him as he is. “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” (I John 3:2) Come, Lord Jesus.
Winter Twilight, oil painting by Melody Phaneuf. Here is the link to her site: