GREAT NEWS!!!! Advent is here!
So why am I using exclamation points? Is this time during the church year that exciting? I mean, doesn’t this signify the candle lighting each Sunday until Christmas? Well, yes. But it’s more than that … ADVENT = JESUS!
The word “advent” in this sense is defined as: “the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event.” And it’s typically called “the first season of the Christian church year.” It means “coming” in Latin. And who is coming? JESUS!!!!
And now is the time to reflect on our Lord, our Savior, Jesus. He came to earth in the flesh, as a helpless infant, to live out life with us and to bridge the gap between us (mankind) and God (our good, good Father). Through Jesus, God stepped down from Heaven when Jesus did life with the people, and He experienced firsthand how sometimes hard that life is. But also how wonderful, joyful it is. He showed us how to live, and how to love. He showed us that God is good…all the time.
When I think back to my upbringing in the Methodist tradition, I see the Advent wreath on the altar, with its four candles along the outer ring, each lit in succession during the four Sundays of Advent. Then there was the big, white candle in the middle. What importance do each of these have, and what can that teach us today? The four outer candles stand for hope, preparation, joy and love, respectively. That big one in the middle is the Christ candle.
Advent is Hope. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13). We can have hope in God because He does what He says He will. He is who He says He is. Our hope can rest firmly on the rock of salvation that we gain when we choose Him. We can live in hope knowing that one day we will be reunited with our Heavenly Father in heavenly realms, for all eternity.
Advent is Preparation. “Prepare a way for the Lord…The crooked will be made straight and the rough places made smooth. All humanity will see God’s salvation” (Luke 3:4-6). As Mary prepared for Jesus’s arrival, we can too! He promised He’d return. I believe He will. We can strive to live each day out as though He were coming any time now. We can follow the commands we are given in the Bible and we can look expectantly forward to seeing Jesus.
Advent is Joy. “Don’t be afraid! Look! I bring good news to you—wonderful, joyous news for all people” (Luke 2: 7-15). The angels were trumpeting and celebrating, the shepherds (after getting over the shock) ran to see Him, and the wise men came to shower Him with precious riches befitting an earthly king. Joy probably doesn’t even begin to describe it. He came to bring us back into alignment with our Creator. He sacrificed much (really, everything) for even the least of us. That is better than any gift Santa could leave under my tree (or driveway…yes, even so much better than that 1970 Boss 429 I have long pined for)!
Advent is Love. “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him won’t perish but will have eternal life. God didn’t send his Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be save through him” (John 3:16-17). Love is leaving perfection, to live in imperfection and gather up flawed, misshapen hearts. Love is patiently teaching by action as much as by word. Love is overwhelming relief when even one lost sheep returns to the flock. Love is thankful. Love is freely given. Love is shaped like a cross.
Advent is Jesus! “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). Blameless, faultless, sinless, spotless, perfect…He came to save. Heaven and earth reverently bow to Him, and He came for you. Because He loves you, and wants you to live in hope and joy, preparing for the time when your worries and cares melt away, and you spend the rest of time in His glorious presence.
May this advent season bring you hope, and joy, and love, and prepare your heart for Jesus!