At Copper Springs Church we have chosen to observe the Advent season. For many, the only understanding of Advent is based on the Advent calendars we had as children. You know, those calendars where you open a new box or flap each day to reveal a new message. In many cases, there was some sort of treat associated with each reveal. At our home, we use a handmade Advent calendar where each day we open a new pouch that holds a small cloth figure that contributes a piece of the Christmas story.
The celebration of Advent, as we know it, began in the Middle Ages. The Catholic Church called on Christians to worship, pray and fast in preparation for the Christ Fest; the celebration of the coming, or Advent, of the Christ-child. Throughout church history both Catholic and Protestant churches held some sort of Advent celebrations.
When my family served in Latvia, Advent was an important part of the church year. There were special celebrations each Sunday in December, as well as, on weekday nights leading up to Christmas. In addition, there was not only a Christmas Eve service but a special worship service on Christmas Day; no matter what day of the week it fell on.
You may be thinking: “So, what’s your point? Why Advent for us, here, now?” Even in my lifetime I have seen our society push the secular side of the Christmas celebration farther and farther back in the calendar and into our lives. My wife recently mentioned her disappointment that Thanksgiving seems to be on the verge of becoming a lost holiday. For many, Thanksgiving is just a day of preparation for the madness of Black Friday and the beginning of the hardcore shopping season.
With this is mind I thought it a good time to revive the Advent approach to Christmas. To take the month of December to prepare our hearts, celebrate and proclaim the reality of the coming of Jesus Christ. If stores can put up Christmas decorations the day after Halloween, why shouldn’t we begin our celebration of the birth of Christ as early as possible!
There is another aspect to Advent for the followers of Christ. Not only do we look back in celebration of the birth of Christ, understanding that His birth began His earthly journey to the cross, we look forward to another Advent. There is coming a day when Jesus Christ will come again! Without apology, I proclaim: I believe in the visible, bodily, triumphant Second Coming of Jesus Christ! I do not know when, but I do know it is sure!
This is another reason for followers of Christ to celebrate at Christmas. We celebrate in anticipation of Christ’s return. We also celebrate in hope that someone, in the midst of our Advent celebration and under the conviction of the Holy Spirit, will choose to surrender to Jesus as Lord. Romans 10:9 states: “…if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved.”
May the Lord bless you this Christmas! And as John recorded in Revelation 22:20-21 – “He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you all. Amen”