Why observe Advent?

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Today marks the beginning of what Christians call the season of Advent. The word originally means “coming” and it has a deep and rich tradition in the church where His people anticipate the coming of Messiah for a four Sunday period prior to Christmas. Of course, it’s not obligatory for Christians to observe Advent but why would evangelicals give time and space to Advent? There are a couple of reasons that come to mind…

First, I think there is something about Christmas that is more about anticipating the presents than it is about anticipating Christ. What I mean is that early on in our lives we have been trained to “long for” and anticipate that glorious morning when we would open the Christmas presents. This is sometimes where we forget that the Jews anticipated a Messiah that had been prophesied from their own prophets. Advent is to remind us to “long for” what we really need… a Savior. When we forget to remember what the Jews wanted to badly we also forget what we need so badly… rescue… salvation…

But second, advent was not only to remind people of His first coming but also His second coming. If the word means “coming” then Advent is the time of year that we intentionally remember not only of the appearance of Messiah in a field in Bethlehem but His return. The first time He came it was a babe in a manger. The second time He comes will be as the conquering King. Jesus is mentioned as saying twice in Revelation 22, “Behold I am coming quickly…” Advent is the time of year that we acknowledge with our lives that our Savior is returning and to be on the alert!

In many ways, the romantic picture and presents of Christmas tend to take away from His future return. For sure the message of Christmas is “God gave”, but during Advent let’s not forget that He will return. He has promised to return and so He will. May all of His people then during Advent live lives of “Maranatha”… Our Lord, return quickly

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