“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.” The voice of your watchmen – they lift up their voice; together they sing for joy; for eye to eye they see the return of the LORD to Zion” (Isaiah 52:7-8).
I love Christmas! The trees and wreaths, the parties and carolers, the food and the gifts… more joy and excitement than could possibly be contained in just one day. We often forget that Christmas is a season of the church that lasts 12 days (remember the carol?). Christmas begins on December 25th and doesn’t end until January 5th. But as you look around today, on December 26th it all appears to be over. No more time for celebrating, no more time for gifts, no more time for carols, and no more time for the Christ child. But like I said, Christmas includes more joy and excitement than could possibly be contained in just one day. So what happened? Christmas has devoured Advent, gobbling it up with the turkey and ham and washing it down with a large glass of Eggnog. So what has become of Advent? Do we even know what it is all about anymore? If you ask most people, they will tell you that Advent is the time that we look forward to Christmas and the coming of the Christ child. And they would be wrong… or at least two thirds wrong. In fact Advent not only represents the beginning of the church year, but the end of the previous year as well.
Advent is the season of expectation. The looking forward to the coming of Jesus Christ into our world and into our hearts. This expectation is not just about Christmas, but so much more. In Advent we look forward to the coming of God the Son who was, who is, and who is to come. It is about the incarnation of God the Son who took on flesh and became man. Advent is a time to prepare ourselves to celebrate the anniversary of the Lord’s coming into the world as the incarnate God of love. But it is also about the means of grace, through the sharing of the Good News and through the sacraments. Advent is a time to prepare ourselves, to make our souls fitting abodes for the Redeemer coming in His body (the church), the bread, the wine, the water, and the Word. And more than this, it is about the promised resurrection. Advent is a time to prepare ourselves for the return of Jesus Christ in glory when He shall sit upon His throne and we shall be with Him rejoicing eternally.
So, it is OK to get ready for Christmas and look forward to the celebration of Jesus’ birth, but don’t stop there. Let’s celebrate Advent for all it is worth. Not just remembering what was, let us celebrate what is – Jesus Christ with us today, and what is to come – when Jesus returns and we are resurrected unto eternal life.
“’I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty’” (Revelation 1:8).