Every year, about the first of December, brightly colored lights begin to appear in yards and on houses in the United States as well as other countries. Trees are lit, lamp posts are wrapped with ribbon, and wreaths are placed on doors. Inside these homes there are still more signs of celebration. Christmas trees are elaborately decorated and evergreen boughs and candles adorn the mantles. Families and friends unite for good food and festivities.
If for some reason, a person who had never heard of Christmas suddenly landed in our town and took a walk through the neighborhood; it would be plain to them that there was a celebration beginning. It would be obvious that the residents were preparing for something very exciting.
We know, of course that we are entering the Christmas season. All of the bright decorations, and our preparations are pointing to one special day. We are preparing to celebrate the birthday of the Savior.
Many denominations call this season Advent. It begins on the fourth Sunday prior to Christmas Day or the Sunday which falls closest to November 30 and is much more serious than the brightly colored lights and tinsel would indicate. Advent is a season of spiritual preparation, marked by prayer, fasting and repentance. It represents the anticipation of the arrival of the Son of God, the Christ.
- A coming into place, view or being; arrival
- The coming of Christ into the world
The first Advent season was about four thousand years long. It began during the time of Adam when he and Eve received the first prophecy of the Messiah. From that time and through the centuries, Israel awaited the arrival of the Christ. The prophets told of Him. (Read about these prophecies here.) Every woman wondered whether her child would be the One who would crush Satan's head as foretold in that first prophecy. (Genesis 3:15)
Theirs was a season of hope and faith, anticipating the release from the bonds of sin, freedom from guilt and the experiencing of new life.
The prophecies were proved true. The Messiah, Jesus, did come. He died for our sins, was raised to life on the third day signifying victory over sin and death. He now sits at the right hand of God the Father.
Even though the prophecies were fulfilled and the Christ came, we still observe Advent. Now, our anticipation is for His return for He promised to come back. In preparation, we repent of sins, we pray, we live faithfully as children of God and we wait for Him.
We wait to see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. (Matthew 24:23-44 ESV)
We wait to see Jesus as He is. ( 1 John 3:2 ESV)
We wait to hear; "Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." (Matthew 25:31-46 ESV)
This is the reason we celebrate during the four weeks before Christmas Day, but as I think about the promises we have, it seems more fitting that we observe Advent everyday, from now until that day when we see Jesus face to face.