Sunday, November 30, 2014

Celebrating Advent

Sunday, November 30th - the First Sunday of Advent this year.

I had never celebrated Advent until just a few years ago.  It was never a tradition that we celebrated when I was growing up.  Now that I know more about it and what it means, I look forward to it every year.

The time before Christmas is called Advent, a season of preparation for Christmas. Christians prepare for celebrating the birth of Jesus by remembering the longing of the Jews for a Messiah. In Advent, we’re reminded of how much we ourselves also need a Savior, and we look forward to our Savior’s second coming even as we prepare to celebrate his first coming at Christmas.

One definition of Advent is "the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event.  The word Advent literally means "coming" or "arrival."

It's all about a season of preparation.  
A time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the coming of Christ. 

At this time of year, you often hear someone ask, "So, are you ready?"  Usually that means - do you have everything done that you need to do - decorate the house, buy the tree, decorate the tree, buy the presents, wrap the presents, baking, writing out and sending cards, etc, etc, etc.

But this question reminds me of getting ready - not for the Christmas holiday - but getting ready to receive Him, born afresh and anew in my heart.  That's what Advent is really all about - the preparation of the heart to receive Emmanuel.  Even though, as Christians, we've already received Him, our hearts can become complacent in appreciating the gift of His coming.  That's what I love about Advent.  It reminds me again the greatest gift, the greatest treasure I could ever receive, is indeed already in my heart!

Celebrating Advent causes me to slow down and focus on the Messiah and His presence in my life - at all times - but especially during this season which can rob our attention from Him and onto all the trappings of this time of year.  It causes me to quiet my spirit and sit before Him.  It causes me to ponder His ways and search my heart.  It causes me to reflect on how I'm celebrating the season and preparing for Him or it causes me to see where I fall short of that.

I celebrate Advent by using the devotional book, The Greatest Gift, by Ann Voskamp.  This book has daily readings from the 1st of December right up to Christmas day.  It's a wonderful tool to help me "zoom in" on the Lord.

Each day I stop, slow down and focus on some part of the Advent story.  My heart is quieted and turned toward Him, which helps my focus for the day.

The first Sunday in Advent, we light the candle of Hope and we're reminded that our hope is in the person of Jesus Christ.  We wait with hearts full of expectant hope for the one who has/will save us from our sins and restore our fellowship with God.

"And now, Lord, what wait I for? my hope is in thee."
Psalm 39:7

"For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man sees, why does he yet hope for?  But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it."
Romans 8:24, 25

"For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel;"
Colossians 1:5

"In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;"
Titus 1:2

Our hope is in Him.  He is our only hope.  We cannot save ourselves.

I love the readings of Advent and the anticipation created in my heart.  I love the opportunity to turn my heart toward Him during this season.  I feel a greater excitement of His presence in my day during this season.  It's like the excitement and anticipation a child feels waiting for Christmas.  

But how much greater the "Gift" of Jesus than the temporal gifts we give each other.

Are you ready?  
Are you ready. . . . .  to receive Him?  
Are you ready. . . . . to celebrate Him?
Are you ready to embrace His presence this Christmas season?

Hope is a Person.

That person is Jesus!

No comments:

Post a Comment