The Meaning of Advent

For more than 1500 years, Christians around the world have observed the season of Advent, a four week period immediately preceding Christmas in which Christians prepare to celebrate the First Coming of Christ and also focus upon His promised Second Coming. Advent comes from the Latin word adventus, which means “coming” or “arrival.” During the season of Advent, the Church enters the anticipation of Israel and the prophets, longing for the coming of the Messiah and all that his coming means to the world. The Church also renews her yearning for the coming of Christ at the end of the age, when he will establish his kingdom, creating the new heavens and the new earth.

Why observe Advent? Two reasons. First, because Advent marks something momentous, namely God’s coming into our midst. Jesus was to be called Emmanuel, which means “God with us,” and it is no small matter that God would come into our world as “one of us.” John’s gospel teaches us that “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.” Advent teaches us that God’s coming is not only a historical happenstance but a recurring possibility here and now as well as a future promise. Second, we should observe Advent because we as Christians have more to say about Christmas than Santa Claus, Christmas trees, and holiday cheer. The themes of Advent remind us that the coming of Christ is a holy and blessed event, evoking our reverence, worship, and contemplation. Advent helps us push back against the over-scheduling, over-spending, and over-indulging that have come to characterize the holiday season for many.

In the four Sundays that lead us into Christmas, our adult Bible classes and our preaching will lead us through various themes of Advent. During this season, I invite you to do two things. First, don’t settle for a hectic holiday season, filled with lots of rushing about but little worship, reflection, and joy. Second, do take advantage of what our church family is offering to you this season: time and space to be still, to wonder at the mystery, to adore the infant-King, to consider your response to Him, and to include others in the celebration of Christmas.

Love in Christ,

Andy

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