For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of His government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over His kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this. – Isaiah 9:6-7.
The Advent season is a four-week period before Christmas that celebrates the anticipation and coming of Jesus Christ, the Messiah. The origin of “advent” is from the Latin word adventus which simply translates “coming” or “arrival”. For hundreds of years, Christians have used this season to remember the coming of Christ, and to prepare for Christmas.
Celebrating Advent typically involves a season of prayer, fasting, and repentance, followed by anticipation, hope, and joy.
This year Advent started from last week Sunday, November 27th, and will end on Saturday, December 24, 2022.
Advent is not only the Christian meaning for:
1. Preparation and celebration of the coming of Jesus Christ’s birth at Christmas.
2. But also to celebrate the new life when someone accepts Jesus Christ as his or her Saviour,
3. To anticipate Jesus returning again.
In a time of great darkness, God promised to send a light that would shine on everyone living in the shadow of death. He is both ‘Wonderful Counselor’ and ‘Mighty God’. This message of hope was fulfilled in the birth of Christ Jesus and the establishment of His eternal Kingdom. He came to deliver all people from their slavery to sin.
The Purpose and Blessings of Advent
Celebrating the Advent season can help us today to follow Christ more faithfully in at least three ways.
A. Advent helps us focus on Jesus.
We’ve all heard clichés like “Jesus is the reason for the season” and “Let’s keep Christ in Christmas”. Even though they are clichés, they contain nuggets of truth. One of the reasons that they exist is that it is just so easy to let all of the activities, shopping, and parties overwhelm our focus on Jesus. Celebrating Advent gives us daily and weekly reminders through Scripture about who Christ is and what He did for us when He came to earth.
B. Advent helps us honour Jesus.
The word “Advent” means the arrival of someone or something important. When an important event like a graduation or wedding is forthcoming, we work hard to make sure everything is perfect. When an important person is coming to visit, we work hard to properly prepare for them so that they will know they are valuable to us. Celebrating Advent helps us give Jesus the proper attention and focus He deserves. By focusing on Him throughout this season, and not just on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, we honour Him more faithfully.
C. Advent helps us remember
Jesus is coming again.
Advent is not only a celebration of Christ’s first coming as a baby; it is also a reminder of Jesus’ return that is yet to come. Just as God’s people awaited the first coming of the Messiah, His people now await the return of their Saviour. The four weeks of Advent reminds us of these comings. In weeks one and two, the Scripture readings look forward to His second coming and remind us of the importance of being prepared for His return. Weeks three and four look backward and help us remember the excitement and expectation that the hope of the Messiah brought to the ancient Jews. It has always been important for God’s people to remember that God is up to something, and that we need to live in expectation of what He will do when He comes again.
In our world, there are so many things that can occupy our attention. The Christmas season is one of the most exciting times of the year, but it is also one of the most distracting seasons of the year. Even for those who want to keep focused on Jesus, it is difficult to do so. By celebrating Advent, we acknowledge that celebrating Jesus is more than one evening and the following day. Let us be people who acknowledge God’s great love and generosity for His people every day this Advent season.
Let us be people whose lives draw others into the real reason for the first coming of our Lord Jesus Christ as we read in Matthew 1:21: 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.” and John 3:16: For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.
COME, THOU LONG EXPECTED JESUS – MHB 242
1 Come, Thou long expected Jesus,
Born to set thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in thee.
2 Israel’s strength and consolation,
Hope of all the earth thou art;
Dear desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.
3 Born thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now thy gracious kingdom bring.
4 By thine own eternal spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to thy glorious throne
Charles Wesley, 1707-1788
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By Dr Joyce Aryee, the author