Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Advent - Preparing for Jesus

by Pastor Bill

2As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, "Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, who will prepare Your way; 3The voice of one crying in the wilderness, 'Make ready the way of the Lord, make His paths straight.'" ~ Mark 1:2-3

It’s the Christmas season. Christmas lights are on the houses. Christmas songs are on the radio. And, department stores everywhere are open Christmas hours. Christmas is a joyful time of year.  Spirits are generally high. Christmas holiday parties with Christmas treats are held in offices all over the country. But, sadly, by mid-January, it seems that Christmas is just a faded memory.

Perhaps, as Christians, we need to worry less about the “war on Christmas,” and focus more on what the entire season is all about.  And, perhaps, we need to look no further than the liturgical roots of the season and come to a deeper understanding of Advent.

We’re right in the heart of our Advent series, and right in the heart of Advent.  But, for many of us, even many believers, our knowledge of Advent is very limited. In fact, despite the fact that I grew up in liturgical churches where there was great devotion to Advent colors and the Advent wreath, I assumed it was simply a celebration of the Christmas season.  What better way to prepare for Christmas than open a little window of an Advent calendar and get a piece of chocolate for 25 straight days!
Beyond the Advent calendar, I had never given much thought to the Advent season until a few years ago. It was then that I decided to really study Advent, what it meant, and why it was an important season (assuming it was).  

To make a long story short, the word “Advent” comes from the Latin word adventus, which means “coming” or “visit.” As Christians, we are to prepare for celebrating the birth of Jesus by remembering the longing of the Jews for a Messiah. In Advent, we’re reminded of how much we ourselves also need a Savior, and we look forward to our Savior’s second coming even as we prepare to celebrate his first coming at Christmas. The word “Advent” comes from the Latin word adventus, which means “coming” or “visit.” In the season with this name, we keep in mind both “advents” of Christ, the first in Bethlehem and the second yet to come.

While certainly the birth of our Savior is worthy of celebration, much like each of our birthdays, it’s far too easy to celebrate the remembrance of our birth on one given day, and quickly move on with the busyness of life. But, this should be a season of so much more.  Advent is a season of hope, a season of preparation, a season of joy, and a season of love. It’s a season of reflection of our deep need of the Savior who came some 2,000 years ago. It’s a season of expectation that He will return again to reign forevermore. 

Oh, that we would spend more energy on anticipating the return of Christ than we do worried whether the grocery clerk wished us a “Merry Christmas” or a “Happy Holiday!” Let’s take this season and reflect on why Christ came the first time and that moment when he returns. You see, when we focus not just on Christ’s birth, but also on his return, we don’t have to experience a post-Christmas letdown. Our excitement, our hope, and our anticipation can last, long past the “Twelve Days of Christmas.”

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