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Let's Unpack Advent

Updated: Mar 4, 2021


We put a lot of things in boxes during Christmas: gifts, candies, decorations… But do we ever consider that maybe we've put Advent itself in a box?…


Depending on your church background, maybe you celebrated Advent by keeping the seasonal calendar, hanging a decorative wreath, or lighting a candle each Sunday during the four weeks leading up to Christmas Day. On the other hand, maybe you have the perspective that Advent is overly-traditional or unnecessarily religious. There's also the chance that you're somewhere in the middle of these perspectives — or you haven't really given much thought to Advent at all.


There are, understandably, a variety of perspectives and experiences surrounding this historical celebration. However, no matter your background or denomination, there are valuable and insightful qualities found following a fresh look at this season.


The core purpose of Advent has Biblical foundation, which is both relevant and practical to all Believers in modern-day — not just at Christmas, but throughout the entire year! Therefore, it is worth unpacking its meaning and significance. Maybe a new look will not only impact how we perceive Advent, but also the entirety of the Christmas season for years to come.


So, putting simple traditions aside, let's examine Scriptural reference, explanation, and practical application of Advent and how Christmas is a Divinely-inspired time to reflect not only on the past, but also the present and what is to come in the future...

The purpose of Advent has a deep and Biblical foundation, which is both relevant and practical to all Believers today — not just at Christmas, but throughout the entire year!
 

Advent is derived from the Latin word Adventus meaning: “coming, arrival” and it is also associated with the Greek word Parousia: “present presence, arrival.” Yes, the church’s celebration of Advent throughout the centuries (most notably originating around AD 380) represents a beautiful time to remember the Reason for the Season – JESUS.


“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord”

(Luke 2:11).


However, its original intent and significance goes far beyond our often bullet-pointed outline of the Christmas Story, which we reiterate and maaaybe fit in each year amidst the rest of our seasonal to-do list. In the church, we are prone to apathy and boredom with the annually-used Scripture passages. (You know what I mean when that opening verse starts: "And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus…"

As it is read by the pastor on Sunday morning or by a family member, you have probably thought to yourself, "Okay, here we go. Time to settle in for the traditional and necessary Christmas Story reading, then *check!* and we will be good for the year.")


But what if it actually ignited and stirred something profound within our hearts — not just one time, but every year and throughout the year?


The events of Advent are so much more than remembering Jesus being born in Bethlehem, wisemen seeking a baby, joyful songs of the angels, and shepherds keeping watch over their flock by night. Although those are important elements, remembrance of the Nativity sparks even greater, lifelong purpose for each Believer…or should…which is why we need to take the opportunity to dive deeper into it…

 

Jesus was the fulfillment of prophecy. For centuries, people had waited in earnest anticipation for the Messiah…


"All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: 'Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel' - which means, God with us" (Matthew 1:22-23 ESV).


Jesus, Immanuel…God IS with us in our daily lives!

Just as in the Greek Parousia: He is "presently present."


Jesus coming as a baby was the catalyst of our eternal salvation and long-term, direct relationship with God. (Now, just that realization is worthy of celebration and should fill our hearts with sincere joy and gratitude toward the Christmas season!)


True revelation of Advent is humbling…as well as awe-inspiring. Without Jesus' advent, our lives would be so different…so hopeless...

Jesus coming as a baby was the catalyst of our eternal salvation and long-term, direct relationship with God. (Now, just that realization is worthy of celebration and should fill our hearts with sincere joy and gratitude toward the Christmas season!)

If it was not for the Advent incarnation of Jesus…


And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14 ESV).


…THEN there never would have been an Easter where Jesus took on all our sin through His physical death on the cross…


"But it was because of our rebellious deeds that he was pierced, and because of our sins that he was crushed. He endured the punishment that made us completely whole, and in his wounding we found our healing” (Isaiah 53:5-6 TPT).


This made way for the Veil to the Holy of holies to be torn, therefore opening the way for us to have direct access to the Father…


“And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split” (Matthew 27:51 ESV).


…which, consequently, was an example of our unprecedented ability to now approach God with confidence and have direct communion with Him eternally.


"Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess… Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:14 & 16 ESV).


Advent initiated a domino effect, which led to us having the opportunity of eternal salvation through Jesus’ incarnation, death, and resurrection!


“…because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved(Romans 10:9).

Advent initiated a domino effect, which led to us having the opportunity of eternal salvation through Jesus’ incarnation, death, and resurrection!

Now, this also means we have received our new identity as God’s children and heirs in the Heavenly Kingdom.


"But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, "Abba, Father." Now you are no longer a slave but God's own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir"

(Galatians 4:4-7 ESV).


Christmas is a time of hopeful anticipation. Just as the Israelites awaited the “arrival and coming of” the Messiah, we also anticipate Jesus’ arrival in His second coming. This season reminds us to not lose hope, no matter our present trials or circumstances; rather, we should rest in knowing JESUS IS COMING AGAIN, He will triumph over the Enemy, and we will have eternal victory! Therefore, it is vital that we keep our hope alive, hearts awake, and pursuit passionate! Advent creates a space for this reflection and encouragement.


“I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown” (Revelation 3:11).


“…This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11 ESV).

Jesus is coming again and He will triumph over the Enemy; therefore, it is vital that we keep our hope alive, hearts awake, and pursuit passionate!
 

Just as children excitedly anticipate Christmas during the holiday season, we should similarly remember our eager anticipation and longing for Jesus' presence and the magnitude of what Advent signifies -- not just during the Christmas season, but throughout the year!


If we simply see this season as a bunch of busyness and empty traditions, then we are putting Christmas in a box…


Let's not add the true Reason for the Season to a to-do list that we just check off with the rest of our holiday obligations, nor pack it in a mental box with our other reluctant feelings toward the season (which have been tainted by the growth of marketed secularization).

If we simply see this season as a bunch of busyness and empty traditions, then we are putting Christmas in a box…

If we authentically choose to see Christmas as the advent of Christ, this influences everything! If we say "Jesus is the Reason for the Season," and truly believe it, then that will overflow into our perspective and heart toward Christmas as a whole! We will see the season for all of its wonder and beauty. The secularization of the world will lose its ability to influence or distract our hearts from the sincere, unwavering gratitude for Advent.

Hope, peace, joy, and love will reign. How could they not, when we realize the magnitude of what this time of year represents for us?! (And if those characteristics don't reign in our life this time of year...then we need to sit down and ask ourselves if JESUS really is our authentic reason for the seasonOR if it is just another phrase we say to fill an obligated expectation or a church-circle image...)

If we say "Jesus is the Reason for the Season," and truly believe it, then that will overflow into our perspective and heart toward Christmas as a whole! We will see the season for all of its wonder and beauty.

Our Savior was born this day in the City of David! Glory to God in the Highest! Hallelujah! Our hearts should be rejoicing this time of year, echoing with awe and gratitude!


Jesus came, He sacrificed His life for our sake, and He rose again in glory!

Similarly today, we receive Him and open our hearts for Him to abide within. Therefore, we have communion with God forever and we can rest in knowing eternal victory is ours through Him and the marvelous Gift of His Son, whose Second Coming we hopefully await!


We should praise God for this time of year and for sending His only Son, the Prince of Peace, so we could be joined with the Father and brought into the Heavenly Family as heirs of a glorious Kingdom, which knows no end and ultimately triumphs! WOW. Thank GOD for Advent and the Christmas Story!


It is an honor to remember, highlight, and celebrate this time of year — and how it changed our life forever. This is incredible news for the whole world, so let's proclaim it through our outward celebration!


So, this year and beyond, let's not put the significance and extensive details of Advent in a box. LET'S UNPACK CHRISTMAS and share its beauty and wonder with others — just as the shepherds did that night in Bethlehem! Let's put it on display for all to see the hope, peace, joy, and love we have in Jesus! Let's enable our authentic joy and love for the season to show, because we have a reason to overflow with gratitude for Christmas and all that God has done for us through it.


Jesus IS the Reason for the Seasonand the Ultimate Reason to every season

and day beyond. May we see Christmas with fresh eyes, humbling wonder, and sincere celebration. Praise God for His glorious gift — the Advent of Jesus!

 

"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this" (Isaiah 9:6-7 ESV).


“And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:18-20 ESV).

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