Advent - Part One

Here we are, December 1, 2015. The year is almost over. As we ready ourselves for Christmas, I would like to spend the next few weeks talking not about the end of the year, but about the beginning.

On this past Sunday (November 29), we began the new year in the Christian Calendar. As Sunday marked the beginning of Advent, so did the new year begin for those who follow Christ. 

So what is Advent?

Advent, by its definition, means: "Coming or Arrival."

In the Christian context, Advent is an opportunity to celebrate the first arrival of Christ (Christmas) and to longingly expect His return.

I am still new to the observance of Advent. I have only recognized it for the past three years, so I am still eager to learn what this season is all about. As I have grown in understanding and in the wonderful joy of observing Advent, I would like to walk through this journey with you.

The First Sunday: Hope

Advent is observed over the four Sundays leading up to Christmas. Traditionally, each Sunday is designed to recognize a gift Jesus brought to the world with him. The first Sunday of Advent explores the Hope that was brought to this world during Christ's first Advent.

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.
— Isaiah 9:2

Isaiah, the prophet, spoke the Words of God in a time when the people of Israel were in dismay. The people had been exiled to a land not their own. They had seen their cities burned and their families destroyed.

Needless to say, they were not a people full of hope.

As Isaiah tells the story of God's plan, about the coming Messiah, he brings a message that would bring Light to this dark world. 

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.
— Isaiah 9:6

Think about that. For someone who has only known capture and destruction, the thought of someone coming to set us free would be pretty exciting. Although not all people believed the words of Isaiah, or recognized when they came true; this moment brought an expectation to the people of Israel. 

Through the benefit of scripture and history, we can see how Isaiah's words came true. We read about Christ coming to earth as a child. Bringing the Kingdom of God to earth through his declaration on the mount. We know the power and redemption of Christ's first Advent. This time leading up to Christmas day is the perfect time to remember and celebrate what Christ did for us when he came to Earth so long ago. 

The beauty of it today, however, is that while we remember, we can also long for the second Advent. 

For behold, I create a new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind.
— Isaiah 65:17

Once again, in Isaiah, we see a message of Hope. As Christ first came to earth a child, He will return as the rightful King. For those of us who know Christ, this is a moment to long for. When the Kingdom of God will come to full fruition and only goodness will prevail. Just as we have reason to celebrate during this Advent and Christmas season, may we also find time to long for Christ's second Advent. 

Advent Resources

Here are some resources for anyone looking for more information about Advent.

This Advent Guide by the Village Church includes family devotions and activities.

Here is a daily Advent reading guide from Word of Life Church.

Trinity Grace Church, in New York, has developed a wonderful daily devotional.

Here is a playlist I created in Spotify to help recognize the Advent season.

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