Did you know that Advent starts this Sunday? More importantly, do you know what Advent is?
I grew up in a Pentecostal Church and all I knew about Advent was that it was the name of a calendar that had little windows that you opened each day in December till you got to Christmas. (sadly, in the 60s and 70s there was no chocolate behind the little doors)
I now understand that Advent is more than just a kind of COUNT DOWN TILL CHRISTMAS.
So, what is it all about?
Advent comes from the Latin word, “adventus” which means a “coming, approach, or arrival”. For Christians, Advent is the waiting for the coming, approach, or arrival of none other than Jesus Christ in our world.
For almost 2000 years, Advent has been the season during which we as Christians reflect on the sort of bookends of God’s actions to save us through Christ. Advent focuses our attention on Jesus’ first coming into our world, His Incarnation, and His second coming, His return in the future in glory to judge the living and the dead and usher in the fullness of the Kingdom of God.
I think that means a couple of things:
- Advent is a time to remember and give thanks for Jesus coming into our world for our salvation. It reminds us of the “reason for the season.” It reminds us that God can be trusted to keep His promises, He sent His Messiah Jesus just as He promised throughout the Old Testament. Advent reminds us to wait with hope, faith, and expectation on God to keep His promises to us. Advent strengthens our faith and keeps Christmas focused on Christ.
- Advent is a time to prepare for the coming of our Lord again. A time to dream of the day when we will see Him face to face and our world will be as it should be. A time to get our lives sorted out so we won’t be ashamed when we meet Him. A time to be committed to working for the kind of world that Jesus will create fully when He returns, a world among other things of peace, love, justice, and joy. The waiting associated with Advent is not about hanging around twiddling our thumbs waiting to go to heaven. Advent reminds us that as we wait for Jesus’ return, we need to work to do what needs to be done to prepare our lives and world for Him.
- Advent is also a time to welcome Jesus afresh into our hearts, to welcome the Lord of the Universe, the God of all creation who gave up all the privilege and prerogatives of divinity to become a helpless baby, live a life of humble service, and then do the ultimate, give His life, all for us.
Advent then is so much more than a countdown to Christmas; it can be a season full of spiritual significance and that’s what we are planning for it to be at Westlake.
Our theme this year for Advent is AN ODD CHRISTMAS. What we mean by that is that almost everything around Jesus’ birth was strange in some way, not what people were expecting. Advent reminds us that so much about the first coming of Jesus into our world was surprising and that God continues to surprise us.
One of our CORE COMMITMENTS OF GROWING DISCIPLES here at Westlake is TO GROW IN INTIMACY with God through having a daily devotional time with God. As a Church, we want to help you grow closer to Him
. To do that during Advent we are going to send everyone a PDF copy of John Piper’s Advent devotional book, GOOD NEWS OF GREAT JOY. This is a great little book with daily readings to guide you through Advent and a devotional thought to help you think about the significance of Advent. Let’s use to enrich our own spiritual lives but our church, by sharing what we are learning with one another.