What do you think of when you hear the word Advent? Candles? Wreathes? Nativity scenes (known as a crèche)? Calendars filled with chocolate (yum!)? Panic as the number of shopping days until Christmas decreases?!?
Christians around the world have been celebrating Advent for years (since at least the fourth century), but like some traditions, many of us celebrate it without really understanding what it is about. The word “Advent” comes from the Latin word adventus (look, now you know Latin!), which means “coming” or “visit.” The season of Advent consists of the four Sundays before Christmas and is a time when we think about the two “advents” of Jesus — the first as a baby born in Bethlehem about 2,000 years ago, and the second when he will return as king (which could happen at any time). Therefore, both celebration and anticipation mark Advent, as we celebrate Christ coming for us and anticipate his return. Overall, Advent helps us to cultivate an awareness of God’s actions in the past, present, and future. God has done great things in the past, is doing good things today, and has promised to continue doing so in the future.
This Advent season at Faith Church we are doing a series called “Waiting for God Knows What” in which we look at how God’s people were waiting for Christ to come and make things right, and we are similarly waiting for Christ to return and bring his kingdom in its fullness. In this series we will look at various promises God made to His people in the Old Testament and then see how they are fulfilled in the Christmas story and life of Jesus, giving us assurance that God is faithful and keeps His promises.
While we are like the people of the Old Testament waiting for Jesus to come, we wait differently because he has already come – he has brought the kingdom in part now and we know he will return because he has come! We do not wait passively, reading magazines in the waiting room of this world, but wait in hope, peace, joy, and love, living as faithful citizens while the king is away, knowing he will return any time now!
The events of this year have been strange, and this holiday season will likely be unusual, but may it be one that reminds us of what we are really waiting for – King Jesus; He is the solution to all the problems that we encounter in this world. As we observe Advent, may we celebrate that Jesus came as a child (and died and rose again) and anticipate that He will return to judge the world and save those who are eagerly waiting for him, just as he promised.
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