Advent is a season of preparation for Christians. Consisting ofthe first four Sundays of the new church year, it is the season during which we prepare to celebrate the birthday of the incarnate Christ. Each year we observe this season by preparing ourselves with prayer and contemplation of the historical fact as well as the significance of the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The season of Advent prior to the birth of Jesus lasted 4,000 years–through the whole Old Testament period, from the time the first promise was given to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden after their fall into sin. John the Baptist spanned the two testaments since he was born six months before Jesus. In adulthood he fulfilled the purpose of his ministry by preparing the way for the Savior who would shortly embark on His ministry. John’s message was “…Prepare the way of the Lord; Make His paths straight” (Matthew 3:3).
This is the importance of our Advent preparation. John’s message calls us to repentance and faith—to put aside all baggage that prevents us from focusing on the real purpose and meaning of Jesus’ birth.
In Christ we are to see the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. They who see in Jesus the fulfillment of God’s promise and by faith cling to Him as their Savior from sin and Bearer of eternal life will have a blessed Christmas.
When we observe Christmas, we celebrate an historical, space-time event that has occurred. It is history, yet not cold and musty history, for each day of our life is lived in the power and under the grace of God through whose Spirit Christ is a living reality among us.
Through faith we recognize that Christmas has an everyday effect on our life. Each moment spent around Word and Sacrament is a moment in which the Lord comes into our lives with His blessing! At Jesus’ birth, sad to say, no room was found for Him in the homes of Bethlehem. In this intervening time between His birth and return for judgment, the majority still have no room for Him in heart or home.
Advent calls on us to observe the whole period of our life from birth to death as a time of preparation for the second coming of the Lord. Whereas Christ’s birth on Earth has occurred, His coming again from heaven lies in the future.
There are some similarities between the two. Onesimilarity lies in the fact that His coming was prophesied both then and now. Further, the time of His coming was hidden from men, known only to the Father who selected the fullness of time. The time of His coming in judgment is known to God, but not to man.
There is also dissimilarity. When Christ came in the flesh, He came in lowliness. When He comes again, He will come in glory and power, attended by the angels of heaven. When He came into the flesh, He came to die for the sins of the world. When He comes in judgment, He will come to take the saved home and cast away those who have had no time for Him.
Each day that passes brings us closer to the Advent of our Lord. We appreciate the rich significance of His first Advent while we are awaiting personally the arrival of His second. The purpose of His birth for us will be fulfilled when He invites, “Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world…” (Matthew 25:34).
The determination of whether one will go to heaven or hell on the last day is not decided on judgment day. It is determined in the here and the now! Therefore, “Prepare the way of the Lord….” There is no time like now to hear and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Revelation 3:20-22).
Teach us in watchfulness
To wait for the appointed hour
And fit us by Thy grace
The triumphs of
Thy conquering power.