Christmas 2017 will be the first Christmas for my 5 month old son. As our home has been decorated and transformed over the last few weeks for the season, it has been exciting to see the wonder on his face and how he interacts with all these new things even though he doesn’t understand their significance. His eyes glow as they reflect the bright lights, he slobbers on the ornaments, and if he gets his hands on the tree he’s pulling on that branch with all his might. Our little boy isn’t quite sure what this season is all about, what it is that we’re anticipating and celebrating, but the innocence and joy on his face ring true regarding the Christmas spirit. And in the weeks leading up to Christmas, just as our home has undergone changes in preparation for the season, so have our hearts as we celebrate Advent.
Advent, which means “arrival” or “coming”, begins four Sundays prior to Christmas Day. It is a time of expectation, of watching, and waiting. It’s the season of peace, love, hope, and joy. It’s an opportunity to consider and reflect on the goodness of the Lord and to rejoice (as a congregation, as a family, and individually) in His faithfulness. It is a time in which our hearts are geared on entry, the appearance of Christ into this world as a child and the great reminder that He will one day return.
As we crank up the Christmas songs and plug in our Christmas tree lights each evening, my little boy is aware that something is coming. He doesn’t comprehend the fullness or the significance of what this is all about but he is old enough and aware enough to notice the changes that are going on around him. In the same way, we may not know the fullness of Christ’s return but we can live in expectancy that He is true to His Word and that He will return again. While there are many different practices, traditions, or rhythms that a family or a church body might participate in during the Advent season, all of them seek to direct our focus towards God’s glory and goodness as His people eagerly anticipate His arrival.
Advent stirs up our affections for the Lord as we eagerly anticipate the second coming of Christ while celebrating his first arrival.
Advent finds us in the place of “already but not yet”. Christ has already come, setting the captives free through His death, burial, and resurrection. But until He returns again or calls us home, we wait in eager expectation and anticipation of that day. We prepare ourselves by renouncing ungodliness, watching the way that we live, and walking in a manner worthy of the gospel that we have received. We prepare ourselves by setting our hearts on eternity and fortifying our lives with the glorious gospel message.
The season of Advent may only be celebrated for a few weeks in December but it is a daily reminder for the Christian of what we have been called to. The advent of Christ is the fulfillment of love, hope, peace, and joy. It is the eager anticipation of God Himself uniting with His people. As we look forward to Christmas Day 2017 may we be like little children, filled with excitement and enjoyment and worship that our King has come.