What is Advent Season
December is a month full of eager anticipation for children and adults. We prepare our homes for Christmas Day excitement, and ready our hearts to celebrate the birth of Jesus. We have a great hope that comes from promises fulfilled in the coming of Jesus in the Scriptures. This year may have presented many difficulties, and you may be in the midst of challenges even today; however, we must pause and let the hope of this season envelop us.
The great promise was given, even before the angel came to Mary that day, back in the Garden of Eden before sin found its way into the world. Because of that promise, we can joyfully sing: “O holy night! The stars are brightly shining; it is the night of our dear Savior's birth.” May our hearts find joy in the glory of this wonderful day!
God set the stage for the Old Testament in Genesis 3:15:
"I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”
This verse tells us our Redeemer will return! From the beginning, God had a plan to redeem his people. We are reminded by Genesis 3:15 that we celebrate this season with an understanding of how God’s plan for redemption is woven throughout Scripture. It is only when we realize that we have all fallen short of the glory of God and how desperately we need a Savior, that we can then receive God’s mercy and grace.
The word “advent” simply means “the coming or arrival of something important.” The arrival was (and is) worth celebrating! As Christians, we celebrate Advent as the arrival of Jesus, God’s son, into the world. God’s people had been waiting thousands of years for the Messiah, and you can only imagine how exciting His arrival was. Our celebration of Advent recognizes the first arrival which was the birth of Jesus, and the second arrival which is yet to come. We wait with great expectation for the second coming of Jesus, his return to earth to make things right once and for all.
An Advent tradition includes lighting candles to represent the gift that Jesus gave to us. We give gifts because of the gift Jesus gave us. As you light the four candles each week, remember these four gifts Jesus shares: love, joy, peace, and hope. Let the light of the candle be a light in the darkness for others.
GIFT OF LOVE
God used the lowly shepherds as the first visitors to witness the miracle of the birth of Jesus to show who deserves His love – all people. God sent Jesus to make His love available to everyone who accepts it, not just the wealthy. Neither money nor status can buy you love. We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We all need a Savior. The Christmas story allows us to recognize our need for love, accept it, and live it out daily.
GIFT OF JOY
Joseph trusted God when the angel appeared to him and said, “Do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins….” He wasn’t joyful about this message, but obeyed God regardless. His joy came from trusting God that things would work out even when he couldn’t understand all the details. Happiness is a fleeting emotion, whereas joy does not change. God enables us to choose joy during difficult situations even when things seem uncertain. Nothing can take away the joy God has given us.
GIFT OF PEACE
When the angel appeared to Mary with the news that she would give birth to the Savior of the world, she was excited and frightened. Mary was chosen by God, and with that anointing came an incredible gift of peace. Trusting God’s promise gave her true peace. When we face difficulties in life, we can find true peace in allowing God to walk alongside us and give us the strength to face the hard times, knowing He is by our side through it all - just like he was for Mary. When Jesus came into the world, He opened the door for us to have a relationship with Him. He promises to give us the amazing gift of peace if we are willing to turn our hearts to Him.
GIFT OF HOPE
Have you hoped for something for a long time, and it hasn’t happened? Imagine how God’s people felt waiting for hundreds of years for the promised Messiah. God used John the Baptist as a vessel to share hope to the Israelites that the promise was coming. We are reminded through the Christmas story that our hope is not in vain. He will always fulfill His promises to us. Even when we can’t see it, He is always working for our good. He will never fail us.
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Watch the 2021 lighting of the Christmas Tree in Jerusalem in this video below from the the Christian Media Center.