Advent Isn’t Christmas

As a kid, there was nothing better than Christmas. Christmas was everything! I loved the songs, the snow, the traditions, the food, and obviously the presents. I loved how everyone’s attitudes began to shift and people were more hopeful, generous, and gracious. The television shows changed. The radio stations changed. Decorations changed. It was awesome!

I still feel a little bit like a 9 year old boy when it starts to snow and I hear Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole on the radio. The entire season leading up to Christmas has always been one of the highlights of my year.

Sometimes in church, I heard grown-ups call this season Advent. We had an Advent calendar in my house. It was a cloth calendar that hung on the wall. Each day we would get to move a little stuffed mouse to a pocket on the calendar. Each pocket represented a different day. Every day the mouse moved closer and closer to Christmas and the anticipation within me would build.

As a kid, I thought Advent was part of the Christmas season. However, as an adult, I learned Advent is actually what comes before Christmas. According to history and the Christian calendar, Christmas is not a day, but a season. It starts on December 25th and lasts for 12 days. Maybe you’ve sung the song before without really knowing what it was about. Advent is the season of waiting. Waiting for what’s coming next.

Waiting

Advent Sunday marks the beginning of the year on the Christian Calendar. This is a time of waiting. It’s a time of anticipation for the Messiah and reminds us there was a time when Jesus had not yet come. It also reminds us there is a day when He will come again.

All of Israel was anxiously awaiting the birth of the Messiah. The prophets had told the people He was coming. Jeremiah wrote in Jeremiah 33:14-16,
The time is coming, declares the Lord, when I will fulfill my gracious promise with the people of Israel and Judah. In those days and at that time, I will raise up a righteous branch from David’s line, who will do what is just and right in the land. In those days, Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this is what he will be called: The Lord Is Our Righteousness.

Israel was waiting in anticipation for the righteous Branch to come up and execute justice. Israel needed justice more than ever. Not since being exiled in Babylon had they needed a savior so intently. The Roman rule over them was oppressive. God had been silent for hundreds of years. The people of Israel had become desperate for the Messiah. That desperation had led to anticipation that seems difficult to fathom today. If God was going to send their savior, there was no better time.

We are waiting as well. We are waiting for Jesus to come again. This season of Advent is a time to reflect on what it must have been like to wait for the Messiah. It’s a time to reflect on what it must have been like for Mary and Joseph to wait for the birth of Jesus. It’s a time for us to reflect on God’s Kingdom that is already here, and yet still to come. It’s also time for us to reflect on the anticipation of Christ coming again.

Journey

This season, I encourage you to discover what it means to wait. What it means to have anticipation even desperation for Jesus. I also encourage you to journey on this path with others. Follow what your church is doing to help journey through Advent together. You can also find other friends or family members to journey with you as well.
There are also many other good advent resources out there. I encourage you to find one and experience Advent and Christmas in a completely new way this year.

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