Advent: Jesus is Coming

This is the season of the church year when we remember Jesus coming at Christmas; Jesus coming into our hearts; and Jesus coming at the end of time. The name of the season is called Advent, which means coming.  (For the secular world, December is the Christmas season with shopping and family gatherings.)  Advent is 4 Sundays long.  The traditional focus of the Sundays is on hope, peace, joy, and love (in that order for each Sunday).  

You can see progression in the Advent Wreath which has four candles surrounding the white Christmas candle in the center.  Three of the candles are purple and one, the Joy Candle is pink.  You light one more candle each week as one counts down the weeks to Christmas.  (The Joy Candle is week three.) There are also Advent Calendars where each day you open a door or flap for a message or a small gift as you count down the days until Christmas. (Advent Calendars have become popular in the secular world too with secular messages.)

The first Sunday is traditionally focused on hope.  We have a sure and certain hope found in Jesus. Out of love, 2000 years ago, Jesus came into this world to reconcile us with God (Romans 5:6-11). We are broken, because of our self-centered natures.  The world is broken, full of wrongs, because of us. Jesus paid the price for our freedom from sin, and began the process of righting the wrongs in this world.  Because of Jesus, we are made right before God and can be agents of change for the good of all.  And we look forward to when Jesus bodily returns. He will then set all things right.  That is the hope we have (1 Peter 1:3-5).

The second Sunday in Advent is on the theme of peace.  Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, we have peace with God (Romans 5:1).  We can live our lives confidently, knowing that we are his and he is working things out for our good.  I experience peace in the midst of many different circumstances of life because I know Jesus.  I cast my burdens on him, because I know he cares for me (1 Peter 5:7).  Because of him, I have peace with God and I can live in that peace.  When the problems and messiness of the world gets to us, we can rest in the fact that God has these situations in his control.  We are his and there is no need to worry.  We can have peace (Philippians 4:4-7).

The third Sunday is the Sunday of joy.  Joy is not happiness.  Happiness is connected to what is happening around us.  Joy is a fruit of the Spirit and is not influenced by circumstances.  Here is how Kay Warren defines joy:  “Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be all right, and the determined choice to praise God in all things.” This means we can rejoice even in our trials and sufferings (James 1:2-4; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). It does not mean a happy face 24/7, but joy is the confidence that God is good and everything will work out. We look to Jesus for our joy. We have joy as we remember all God has done for us, that God is using these events for our good, and there is a full life today and a wonderful life that is waiting for us in heaven.

For the fourth Sunday the focus is on love.  It is because of God’s love for us that Jesus came, so that we might have life in him.  It is not because who we are and what we have done, rather it is totally about God’s love for us.  We love because God first loved us (1 John 4:7-19).  Jesus restored that relationship with God.  That is what Christmas is all about Jesus coming in love, so that we might be reconciled to God and have full and eternal life in him.

So as you celebrate Christmas, remember there is more to Christmas than just gifts, family, and food.  It is about God loving you so much that he came down and became a little baby so that he might restore this broken messed up world.  Jesus came for you so that you might have life in him (John 10:10-11).

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. (John 3:16-17)

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