December is the month of Advent for many Christians. The word “advent” comes from the Latin language and is a verb form with the meaning of “coming towards, approaching,” or “he comes.” The “He” who is coming is Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Our Emmanuel – which means: “God is with us.”
The first coming which we celebrate this Advent Season is His Coming at Christmas, “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” (Galatians 4:4–5 ESV) But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.” The Bible is full of promises concerning this coming of Jesus the Christ, these promises all totally came true. The unusual circumstances of his birth (of a virgin, in Bethlehem) and even His death and resurrection show this child is indeed the very Son of God!
The second coming which we celebrate this season is His Coming again in the future as His Word proclaims. On the Last Day, Jesus will come and raise all the dead. Those who believe in Him as their Savior and LORD will be brought to live with Him in the mansions prepared for us in Heaven. Those who rejected Him as their Savior and King will be rejected by and cast out of His Presence into the darkness of hell. There the Bible says: “will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
We also consider how Jesus comes to us today in His Word. He tells us He is “with us” when we gather together around His Holy Word. Through the Bible, Jesus comes to us and blesses us with the comfort that He is our God; that He has died and risen again as He had promised; that our sins are forgiven and that Heaven has been opened for us.
The length of Advent is a little different every year, since it is officially celebrated as the four Sundays before Christmas Day. This year, the first Sunday of Advent is November 27th. In the past, (around the Fourth Century) Advent was celebrated with fasting, or abstaining from some foods so that we might concentrate on Christ’s coming with repentance and prayer and was considered like a little Lent.
Some families today will use an Advent Calendar. It has little boxes to be opened each day, and when the box for the day is opened it will suggest a passage or a devotional thought which points us to the coming Christ. Most churches will have an advent wreath with four colored candles and one white (called the Christ Candle). Different churches have different name for the candles like “shepherd”, “Bethlehem”, “hope” or “joy.” Three are usually purple (the color of repentance and royalty) or blue (the color of anticipation) and one is usually pink or rose colored (and is associated with the birth of the forerunner of Christ, John the Baptizer). The readings of the Sundays usually focus on one of the comings of our LORD.
This advent, whether you observe the traditions or not, listen to your Lord in His Word. Let Him bless you as He strengthens you with His promises. Use the opportunities to worship and thank Him together with your fellow Christians, in the House of the LORD. Witness again how He came one day into our World as a little baby and our brother. Remember how there is still one promise to be kept: He will come again soon.