Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

What is the meaning of Advent? Why do Christians celebrate Advent?

Calendar of Christian Holidays and festivals

Calendar of Christian Holidays and festivals

Advent is:

Advent is the season that begins the liturgical year. It consists of four Sundays starting with the Sunday closest to November 30th. The word advent is derived from the Latin adventus, which means “coming” or “arrival.” In the societies of the Roman empire, the word adventus referred to the arrival of a person of dignity and great power — a king, emperor, or even one of the gods. For Christians, Advent is the time when the church patiently prepares for the coming of the King of Kings, Jesus Christ. On a personal spiritual level, Advent is a time when we should long for a new breaking in of God’s Spirit upon us.

Here is a good post about the story of Advent by Rev. Donald Sensing at Sense of Events blog.

Excerpt:

They were not a wealthy couple. They got by all right in Nazareth because Joseph was a carpenter, a skilled job, but he didn’t make enough money for the finer things of life. Like everyone else in their country, Joseph and Mary relied heavily on their extended families to help them get through the lean times. And when they were doing well, there was always a third cousin or an aunt twice removed who wasn’t, so they helped as much as they could.

To say it was inconvenient to leave Nazareth to travel to Bethlehem would be the greatest of understatements. They had not counted on leaving Nazareth before the child was born. In fact, they didn’t think they would leave Nazareth ever. But a decree had gone out from the Roman emperor that the whole empire would have to pay a special tax. For some reason, the rulers of Judea decided that they may as well take a census while they were at it. Because of the tribal and clannish nature of society, the authorities ordered everyone to go to their ancestral hometowns to be counted and pay the tax.

Protests that some people could not make the trip, such as the aged and infirm, were simply met with rebuff. So Mary, very late in pregnancy, was compelled to schlep down the Jordan River valley on the back of a donkey. The journey by road was about ninety miles, plus having to climb more than 1,300 feet in altitude, so the trip took more than a week. You can’t travel fast leading a donkey on foot carrying a very pregnant woman.

They arrived in Bethlehem on yom rishon, which simply means, “the first day of the week,” the Jews having a specific name for a day of the week only for the Sabbath, the last day of the week. On the Sabbath, they had not traveled because religious law forbade long-distance travel on that day. Besides, they had needed the rest. So on Sunday afternoon, yom rishon, they reached Bethlehem, just one couple among hundreds of families arriving for the census.

Joseph was a lineal descendant of King David, whose hometown had been Bethlehem. Joseph never made too much of his royal ancestry. Certainly, he was not the only descendant of David, and just as certainly, Joseph never thought about claiming the ancient throne. The Jews had lived under foreign domination for hundreds of years, first by the Greeks and then the Romans. The idea of regaining political independence was simply absurd. There was no way successfully to fight the Roman army, as dozens of Mediterranean nations had discovered.

The little town of Bethlehem lacked the infrastructure to cope with a large influx of people needing to stay for several days at a minimum. The early arrivers had gained lodging with relatives, but the small houses filled up fast. There were few inns in the town that had filled well before Joseph and Mary got to town.

Joseph tried to gain lodging at an inn, but the owner was unyielding. He explained that to take them in, he’d have to throw someone else out. He would not have such dishonor on his head, pregnant Mary or no.

“Try the outside of town,” the man said. “There may be a few homes there with space for a kinsman.”

Click here to read the rest. This is a good post to send to people who don’t know what Christmas is about.

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Mixed results for the Dearborn Four

Here’s the story on Answering Muslims. (H/T Confident Christianity)

Excerpt:

Flags were at half-mast in Dearborn today when four out of five charges against the Dearborn Four were dropped. Defendants Qureshi, Wood, Rezkalla and Mayel were all found not guilty of their “Breach of Peace” charges, but defendant Mayel was found guilty of the charge “Willfully Disobeying the Lawful Order of a Police Officer.” She was sentenced to one day of jail, which had already been served in June. The credit was applied, and all four were free to go. The judge sent them on their way saying “You are welcome in Dearborn.” Clearly.

Even though the person who complained against Negeen, Roger Williams, was effectively shown to be a compulsive liar, and even though the police officer who arrested her admitted that she had done nothing illegal before he detained her for questioning, she was still found guilty. Is there no justice in Dearborn?

The trial process has been tasking in many ways. We’ve spent a week away from work, school, and our families. We’ve had a grueling week of preparing for court day after day, without break or diversion. And emotionally we are spent. But we’ve got so much to be thankful for.

But check this out:

To our friends who flew to Dearborn to testify on our behalf, especially those who waited for a week in the hotel only to be told by the court that their testimony would not be allowed: we cannot thank you enough for your show of support and willingness to sacrifice for us. We only hope we can express our sincere gratitude as wonderfully as you have expressed your love.

To those who supported us financially: we could not have done it without you! When we came to Dearborn a week ago, we had hoped to be done with the trial by Wednesday. By Thursday morning, the prosecution was still not done presenting its case, and so the defense still hadn’t started! Our expenditures skyrocketed because we had to unexpectedly extend our rental car, hotel rooms, and rearrange our flights. Your support has sustained us financially, and the love of Christ shines through your self-sacrificial attitudes. We cannot thank you enough!

Also, a million thanks go out to the Thomas More Law Center, without whom we would have been unable to defend ourselves from the persecution of the City of Dearborn. Robert Muise was not only our attorney and counsel, but he was fully invested in this issue with us, sharing our emotional burden and investing more time into the issue than even us. The way he approached the case, he might as well have been handcuffed and in jail with us 3 months ago. Truly our brother in Christ, we would have had to take pleas of guilty had it not been for him and his diligence.

And more details about Negeen are now out here.

This is why I tell young people to think ahead and build a savings account for situations like this. Everything costs money, and often your ability to take these bold stands are conditional on the size of your savings account. It reminds me of the Human Rights Commissions in Canada, and their war against free speech. They can put you on trial for several years and drain you of tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees if you fight them in court, like they did with pastor Stephen Boissoin. In a very real and practical way, your ability to be faithful under fire may rest on the degrees you have earned in school, and the money you earn and save while working.

An army marches on its stomach – and an army has to guard its supply lines. Similarly, Christians can only take bold stands on a full wallet. Nabeel, for example, is trained as a medical doctor. That is a field that would allow him to pay for loads of lawyers so he can get into as much legal trouble as he wants for speaking out about what he believes. If he chooses to continue his medical career, he would be well-supplied with funding, and able to mix it up with the other side. He would be able to back up his tough talk in the court room.

I am reminded of how the poor financial decisions made by the anti-intellectual fundamentalist Dan Barker cost him his faith. Do not test God by getting into more trouble than you can handle, and hoping that he will magically bail you out. Christianity is dangerous. People get hurt. Some even get killed. We are getting creamed in the courts, in the news and on campus every day. Do not waste your life having fun in your youth like the non-Christians do – prepare for your trials now. You cannot spend all your time dancing and singing and drinking and then still expect to be able to stand against powerful enemies who will have no mercy on you in the court room. Make wise choices. Learn everything you can. Work hard. Save your money.

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