I would like to shift our focus for the next four messages leading up to Christmas Day and begin an Advent devotional series, in hopes that we might experience afresh the passion and power of waiting on God during these last few days leading up to Christmas Day. In this first message, we will look at what Advent is in the life of the Christian.
The word advent simply means the coming or the arrival of something anticipated and important, such as the advent of the electric light bulb . . . the advent of the automobile . . . the advent of the computer . . . the advent of the cell phone. The word Advent, as it relates to the Christian calendar, comes from the Latin word adventus, which means “coming” or “visit.” It generally covers the four Sundays leading up to Christmas day. It is the time when Christians prepare to observe the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ through prayer, fasting, and repentance. We remember the hope of the Jewish nation and their longing for the coming of the Messiah.
During the Advent season we celebrate two profound events in the life of one promised Person; that Person, of course, is the Lord Jesus Christ. The two things we celebrate are His first Advent—the birth of the Christ child in Bethlehem—and His promised second Advent, when He will return to consummate His kingdom.
This is our fourth season celebrating Advent as a church family at Cross Community Church. The comments from the congregation each year have truly blessed my soul! All the members of our congregation, as well as our many visitors, are incredibly excited to participate in celebrating the Advent season. Some have told me that it brings back warm childhood memories of Advent calendars, Advent wreaths, and Advent candles. Others have said Advent is something they knew little or nothing about, and they find it both fascinating and faith-building. All of them affirm that our observation of Advent is quite helpful in shifting their focus away from the crass, worldly commercialism of Christmas and onto the cherished Christ of Christmas.
I can also tell you that the Advent sermons enrich the worship in our church. However, in our increasingly secular society, the Christmas season—with all the “parties we’re hosting and marshmallows for toasting”—has a tendency to “X” Christ out of our hearts and minds if we aren’t careful.
Advent should remind us, not only of the coming of our Savior, but of our continual need of Him day by day. D. James Kennedy used to say, “God saved you then. Is He saving you now?” God not only saves us from the penalty of our sin; He saves us from the power of sin. God is saving us daily from our old way of living and empowering us to live a new way—with a new heart, new goals, new desires, and a new direction in life. The season of Advent helps us to keep these Gospel truths in clear focus.
It is my prayer that this Advent Devotional Series will help us all to be ready, willing, and able to celebrate—not so much the presents under the tree, but the great Gift of God, who was nailed to the tree in our place, taking on Himself all our sin and giving us His righteousness, that we might have eternal life.
I hope you find the next three messages to be a source of encouragement that will strengthen your hope and sharpen your focus on the Lord Jesus Christ, who has come and is coming again, just as the Scriptures promise:
He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!