Advent | 将临节
10 “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”
(Luke 路加福音 2:10-11)
What is Advent? | 何谓将临节？
Advent is the first season of the church calendar, marking the beginning of a new liturgical year. In 2020, Advent begins on Sunday, 29 November, and ends on Christmas Eve.
The word Advent is derived from a Latin word meaning “coming” or “arrival”.
Advent has three accents: past, present, and future.
- We join in the preparation for Christmas by remembering the intense longing of Israel for her Messiah, which was fulfilled when Christ first came as a baby, in the flesh at Bethlehem.
- We remember that now in the time of our mortal life, while we wait for his return, He has left us with His Word, His Sacraments, and most importantly with His Spirit in His Church. We must now allow all of these to shape the way we live and act in the present. In this way, Christ enters into our hearts daily.
- Finally, we look beyond history altogether and yearn for that day, at the end of time, when Christ shall come again in glory at His second coming.
We, who live in between the first and second coming, live in Advent time. And, we must prepare for Christ’s return.
Let us prepare our hearts, therefore, to watch, to wait, and to yearn for the return of our King.
将临节是教会年历中的第一个节期，在教会年历中，这 标志着新的一年的开始。将临节是从圣诞节前的第四个主 日开始的，直到平安夜为止。2020 年的将临节是从 11月 29 日的主日开始的。
将临节，Advent 源自拉丁文,是“来临” , “接近”的意思。
- 我们以纪念以色列人对弥撒亚来临的强烈期待来预 备我们的圣诞节，这期待借着耶稣基督在伯利恒的 出生已经实现了。
- 除了过去，我们也纪念到当前这段我们正在等待耶 稣再来的现实生活。耶稣为教会留下了圣言，圣礼 还有宝贵的圣灵。我们应该允许这些来塑造我们的 生活及行为方式，这样，耶稣就每天活在我们心里 了。
- 最后，我们也超越历史，我们渴望那历史终结的时 刻，就是基督再次荣耀将临的那一天。
The Candles in the Advent Wreath | 将临花环中的蜡烛
The Advent wreath symbolizes the eternity of God.
There are three purple candles, one pink candle and a larger white candle in the middle as the Christ candle. The purple candles represent Hope, Peace and Love; the pink candle represents Joy.
On each Sunday during Advent, a candle is lit representing the virtues Jesus brings us: Hope, Love, Joy and Peace. The Christ candle is lit on the fourth Sunday and it reminds us that Jesus is the light of the world.
How did “Hope” come into the World?
By: Rev Boey Kok Yeow
All of us have hopes. Our hopes can vary from a simple wish to find a nice place for family vacation, to the desire to live forever in a place where there is no more pain, suffering and sicknesses. In the first week of Advent, we want to reflect on the subject of Hope; on how the all-encompassing Hope came to the world.
Centuries ago, God promised a deliverer who would restore Israel to her former glory and she was still waiting for his arrival.
Then came the time for God to fulfil His promise. God, out of His great love, sent his one and only begotten Son, Jesus, to deliver man from sin and death. The all-encompassing Hope has come and it was on the occasion which we now call Christmas.
However, very few could recognize the Hope that had entered our fallen world! We must know this great hope expressed in the person of Jesus! A hope for forgiveness and cleansing of sins. A hope for abundant life; a life filled with the presence and power of God. A hope for eternal life that enables us to reconcile our past, live purposefully for the present and set our hearts for the age to come.
God said Jesus will return one day to make all things good again. Many years have passed and we are still waiting for His second coming. As we wait, there is always the tendency to lose heart. This then is exactly why we need to celebrate Christmas. In celebration, we recapitulate what God has done in human history through Jesus Christ; we are assured that God who fulfilled his promise on the first coming of Jesus will certainly fulfil His promise on the second coming of our Lord Jesus.
Therefore, be strengthened by this unshakable truth. Let us celebrate, let us rejoice and let us go and tell others of this great hope of Christ Jesus.
How did “Peace” come into the World?
By: Rev Boey Kok Yeow
All of us need peace. Our longing for peace can vary from a simple wish to find a quiet place away from the business of life, to the desire to live forever in a place where there is not a single trace of chaos, wars and quarrels. In the season of Advent, we want to reflect on the subject of peace; specifically, on how the all-encompassing Peace came to the world.
Israel, the once favored nation, was estranged from God. Her stubborn disobedience had brought about the need to reconcile her to her LORD. Also, because of her waywardness, God had allowed her to lose her status as a nation. She suffered oppression of the pitiless rule of a foreign power. Hundreds of years ago, God had promised a Savior who would restore Israel to honor and return her to God’s approbation. She was still waiting for his arrival.
Then came the time for God to fulfil His promise. God, out of His great love sent his one and only begotten Son, Jesus, to reconcile man to God. The Bible tells us that Jesus is the gift-child born for us. He will take over the ruling of the world and will be called; Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace (Isa 9:6). The all-encompassing Peace had come and it was on the occasion which we now call Christmas.
However, the stark reality is that we are still living in a broken world where sin is present and where its manifestation is so terrifying that it frightens us. We know well that God said Jesus will return one day to make all things right again. However, many years have passed and we are still waiting for His second coming.
As we wait, there is always the tendency to be unnerved by all the troubles that are happening around us. This then is exactly why we need to celebrate Christmas. In celebration, we recapitulate what God has done in human history through Jesus Christ and are assured that God who fulfilled his promise on the first coming of Jesus will certainly fulfil His promise on the second coming of our Lord Jesus. The Prince of Peace is coming and when he comes, he will fill the whole earth with his peace.
Therefore, strengthened by this unshakeable truth, let us celebrate, let us rejoice and let us go and share the marvellous peace of Jesus Christ.
How did “Joy” come into the World?
By: Rev. Peter Pan
The third Sunday of Advent, is also known as “Gaudete Sunday.” Gaudete means “rejoice” in Latin. The rose or pink coloured candle is lit in addition to two of the violet (or blue) coloured candles, which emphasizes the joyous anticipation of the Lord’s coming.
We prepare the week by feeling the joy. We move through the week feeling a part of the waiting world that rejoices because our longing has prepared us to believe the reign of God is close at hand.
Each day in the week, we will continue to go through our everyday life, but we can pause in those moments, and feel the joy of the words, “You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21
Everyone longs for a happy life but in reality, many do not live happily. Perhaps this is the reason why we like to offer each other good wishes for happiness – on birthdays, for holidays and other events.
Happiness is a feeling of wellbeing, satisfaction and contentment. A Chinese expression describes how feelings are affected by what one sees and experiences. The circumstances we encounter are often the cause of how we feel: we are happy when we strike lottery, or we feel depressed if we receive notification of a traffic fine.
It is still possible, however, for one to feel happy despite facing adverse circumstances. Paul wrote an epistle full of happiness to the Philippians while he was in prison! The word “joy” is used in the Bible to express such positive feelings of happiness. Joy is happiness by choice and upon reflection.
Paul’s feelings were no longer determined by his circumstances and what he experienced. Happiness to him was not a passive product. Paul said, “..for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.”
(Philippians 4:10) Paul’s happiness is an active product of reflection and personal commitment. To him, happiness is a choice and not a feeling determined by circumstances.
This is not to say that there is no pain and worry when one is happy. Paul says that he is “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing”. (2 Cor 6:10) It’s a dichotomy, sorrow and happiness, and yet the two can co-exist in reality. Paul is able to experience this because he knows the meaning of his suffering, which transcends personal interests. Life is often more fulfilling, happy and meaningful when one is able to have the interests of others at heart.
Let us choose to be happy as we enter the New Year. When we set our sight beyond personal gain and loss and imitate the self-sacrificing life of our Lord Jesus we will truly experience a more profound level of happiness – joy!
How did “Love” come into the World?
By: Rev. Peter Pan
The theme of the fourth week of Advent is love.
The theme of love may be a well-worn subject yet we cannot claim to have a full grasp of what it means to love. We may view it as something that cannot be obliged just as I cannot be made to love Miss Tan if my love interest is Miss Lim. Love, and so it seems, is a natural and spontaneous feeling towards someone, an emotional state.
But we have also heard the mother telling her elder son to love his younger brother and not bully him. Therefore, loving someone need not always be natural and spontaneous. It can sometimes be a responsibility, a moral obligation. Jesus Christ even says, “A new commandment I give you: Love one another.” Hence, loving others involves not only the emotional but the moral dimension as well.
In addition, it is stated in 1 John that God is love, which implies that His love is not of this order. Love is God’s character. The nature of this love encompasses what is described in 1 Corinthians 13: Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy…
The final goal of the expression of this love is for us to be one with God, as Jesus has prayed, “…that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that they… may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know… that you have loved them even as you have loved me.” (John 17: 21-23)
When we are one with God His desires become ours and His feelings become our feelings. This is the ideal, ultimate state. Such being the case then what is our response to this understanding? The Bible teaches us: “…God is love. This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through him… Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” (1 John 4: 8-11)
以色列 – 这个曾经受到青睐的国家与上帝疏远了。她既顽固又不顺服，她急切需要与她的主和好。此外，因着她的任性，上帝任凭她亡国了，她遭受到了外国势力统治的无情压迫。几百年前，上帝应许了一位救主，祂将恢复以色列的尊荣并带领以色列重新得到上帝的接纳，而以色列仍在等待着这位救主的来临。
我们都希望活得快乐。但在现实生活中，活得不快乐的人却大有人在。因此在与人交往的过程中，我们总会祝贺人家快乐 – 如“生日快乐”或“佳节快乐”等等。
当年在狱中的保罗已越过触景生情的层次。对他而言，快乐的情绪已不是被动式的触景生情。保罗在监狱里说：”…我无论在什么景况都可以知足，这是我已经学会了” (腓4:11) 。保罗的快乐情绪是主动的，是一个经过思考和委身而产主生的。对他而言，快乐是一个选择，而不是任由环境来主导的情绪。
就在这层级上，快乐不等于无忧无虑，也不等于毫无伤痛。保罗在《哥林多后书》就形容自己说：“忧伤, 却常有喜乐”(林后6:10) 。忧伤和快乐这两种戴然不同的情绪，现实上是可以同时存在的。保罗之所以能够作到，是因为他知道自已所经历的苦难是有意义的。这意义所涉及的是一种超越一己利益之上的东西。当人越为别人的利益着想的时候，往往就是人活得最充实，最快乐和最有幸福感的时候。
这等爱的表现最终是要使我们与神合而为一。所以耶稣曾如此祈愿说：“使他们都合而为一。正如父你在我里面，我在你里面，使他们也在我们里面……使他们合而为一，像我们合而为一。我在他们里面，你在我里面，使他们完完全全合而为一，让世人……知道你爱他们，如同爱我一样” (约翰福音17: 21–23) 。
当我们与神合而为一的时候，上帝的心意也就成了我们的心意，上帝的情感也就成了我们的情感。这是神与人最终极的理想状态。即然如此，当下我们当如何去回应这等理解呢？圣经指出：“…上帝就是爱。上帝差他独一的儿子到世上来，使我们藉着他得生命；由此，上帝对我们的爱就显明了… 亲爱的，既然上帝这样爱我们，我们也要彼此相爱” (约翰一书4:8–11) 。