In the midst of the overcrowded malls and parking lots so full that people start yelling matches. (That happened… I was looking for a parking spot and a car stole the spot of another person and they got out of their car, opened the other car's door and yelled at them! It was a sight to see..) Well in that crazy time of year, when you are praying that your Amazon prime account truly delivers in two days, in THAT craziness that is the advent season it's easy to forget what advent truly means. Or you may even be like me and for years not even know what advent actually meant!
Well the simple definition is- the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event.
Or, the one we use in this season- the first season of the Christian church year, leading up to Christmas and including the four preceding Sundays.
I think advent could be summarized simply with one word- coming.
That’s why we celebrate in the weeks proceeding Christmas, because we are celebrating that Jesus came!
And what a celebration that truly is. That love came down to save us, and that the joy of the world was made into flesh. That we have hope that the hurting in this world will come to an end, and life can be found forever in a baby born in a manger.
1 Peter 1:10-12 is a clear description of what we look back to during Advent. Which helps us to what we should look like today during the most wonderful time of the year.
“Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.” (1 Peter 1:10-12)
For weeks, it’s as if we’re re-enacting, remembering the thousands of years God’s people were anticipating and longing for the coming of God’s salvation, Jesus. That’s what advent means—coming. Even God’s men who foretold the grace that was to come didn’t know “what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating." They were waiting, but they didn’t know what God’s salvation would look like.
One of my favorite verses in all of scripture is Matthew 11:28 which says “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
Come to me. That is Jesus’ cry to every person, both believer and not. We are all welcome to come to him. What even more amazing to me though, is he met us half way. He first came to us, so that we have the ability to come to him.
That’s what happened some 2000 years ago in a manger. The savior, messiah, God-in-flesh came to this Earth. Jesus came.
Spurgeon says it beautifully:
“Jesus is the good Shepherd going before His sheep, bidding them follow Him, and ever leading them onwards with the sweet word, "Come." The law repels, the gospel attracts. The law shows the distance which there is between God and man; the gospel bridges that awful chasm, and brings the sinner across it.
From the first moment of your spiritual life until you are ushered into glory, the language of Christ to you will be, "Come, come unto me." As a mother puts out her finger to her little child and woos it to walk by saying, "Come," even so does Jesus. He will always be ahead of you, bidding you follow Him as the soldier follows his captain. He will always go before you to pave your way, and clear your path, and you shall hear His animating voice calling you after Him all through life; while in the solemn hour of death, His sweet words with which He shall usher you into the heavenly world shall be—"Come, ye blessed of my Father."” (Spurgeon)
We have the opportunity to tell everyone this Christmas season that Jesus has come. And because He came, we get to be with Him. If we can tell of this great joy, amazing thing can happen. We can bring hope to the hopeless this Christmas. Bring healing to the broken this Christmas. We call help the lost find there was back home, back into relationship with the Father though the messiah born in a manger this Christmas.
Our greatest act of worship during this Christmas season should be telling everyone that Jesus has come and that all are welcome to go to Him when he says come to me. Think now of whom you might tell this amazing story to this Christmas! Not just who can you wish a Merry Christmas, or ask what Santa brought. No, more than just that. That could mean inviting a neighbor to church, or having dinner with a friend and telling them about the hope that you have in Christ.
I hope our voices this time of advent can be both cries to Christ saying, “come. Come quickly. Come occupy the throne of my heart. Come and abide with me. Come Lord Jesus come.” And cries to everyone that will listen saying “Come with me because Jesus came.”
Advent is the celebration of the coming. Jesus came, and that’s reason to celebrate. So drink and be merry. Let your hearts be filled with cheer. Give gifts, eat food, laugh with friends and family. But also take a moment to give praise in remembrance of why we celebrate. Advent is upon us. Lets live like it is.
*photo by Nancy Rodriguez