What is Advent? (not only for Catholics)

God isn’t honored by Christians becoming “scrooges” who criticize everything about the Christmas season in an effort to “purify” Christmas. At the same time, don’t allow yourself to lose Jesus under the Christmas tree. Unfortunately, I know quite a few Christians who fall into both of those extremes. Recovering the Advent Season is our best way to be joyfully focused on God during this Christmas season.

Advent is more than a calendar with cheap chocolate leading up to December 25th. It is a season of “expectant waiting.” Does that describe your attitude today, or are you so bogged down by busyness and shopping that you don’t have time to expect anything but stress? The article below summarizes the message and meaning of Advent for the everyday Christian.

This season, create space to slow down. Watch less TV. Delete social media apps from your phone. Wake up earlier. Do what you need to do to spend time in Scripture each day, meditating on God’s work of salvation and his glorious promises to his children.

Advent Candle

Three Advents
The word advent is the Latin version of the word parousia, which is the Greek word for Jesus’ second coming. Traditionally Advent is a season for Christians to celebrate three aspect of Jesus’ arrival…

  1. His birth in the little town of Bethlehem when the God the Son was born as a human baby.
  2. Entering into our lives by the Holy Spirit when when confess and repent of our sin in order to be reborn as Christians.
  3. When he will return in glory for judgement and the final salvation of his people.

Throughout Christian history, the future return of Christ has been a leading emphasis in the season of Advent. It seems today that aspect can be eclipsed by Christmas celebrations of Jesus’ birth. While it is obviously important to remember the miracle of the incarnation through the message of Christmas, Jesus’ return is foundational to Christian faith.

Advent is a season leading up to Christmas where we have the opportunity to reflect on Israel’s waiting for Christ’s birth even as we continue to wait for his return. Our salvation has been accomplished through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection… but it isn’t yet complete. Our faith has not yet become sight. Our hope is secure but it remains future-facing. This is an opportunity to intentionally refocus on the reality of Christ’s return when he will fulfill all his promises.

The Weeks of Advent
The theme of the first week of Advent is HOPE. The hope of salvation yet to come. For Israel, it was the hope of a savior-messiah who would come. For Christians today, this is the future hope where the work of salvation that Jesus secured will be complete and full.

The second week of Advent is PEACE. This is what the gospel brings – peace on earth, goodwill to men. In the midst of striving for peace and fulfillment, we are at rest because of the work and promise of Jesus Christ.

JOY is the theme of the third week of Advent. Rather than living in misery or despair, we live with joy because of the promise of salvation. Even as we live in this world that bears the scars of sin, we live with joy because we know that Jesus will return and bring to completion all the good works that he began.

The final week of Advent focuses on LOVE. It was in love that God took on flesh, was born as a baby boy in order to save and redeem sinners like you and me. In love he adopted us as sons and daughters.

Embrace Advent this season. Consider Israel’s testimony of longing for a messiah. Continue to work out your salvation as Christ is formed in you. And live in faithful expectation of Jesus’ return when your faith will become sight.

 

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