I love the Advent season! Since I was shown the wonders of this liturgical season, I believe I have uttered the word “Advent” more in the last three years than I had the entirety of my life. This year is the first year that I have taught through the meaning of Advent in my several years of serving in ministry and I have to confess: The season of Advent has been more refreshing this year than it has ever been in my life.
I think there are many reason for this. First, teaching through the four words which typically represent Advent (hope, peace, joy, and faith) have helped me gain a more appreciative perspective of how they are represented in the Bible and how they relate to the current season. Second, and this is what I would like to focus on, given the mess of a year which has been 2020, the season of Advent reminds me that we not only celebrate the Son of God coming to this earth as a baby, but also that we wait for His second coming in which He will vanquish sin, disease, and death forever.
As I think further about this second reason for my immense love for Advent this year, I am reminded about how early Christmas lights went up this year. These two topics might seem completely unrelated, so let me explain. The day after Halloween this year, I saw many of the houses in my neighborhood setting up their Christmas lights. It was to the point in which these lights were up by the 2nd of November. I thought it might have just been the families in my neighborhood, but apparently this has been a common pattern in other neighborhoods as well. To me, its a further reminder that this season, Christmas to some and Advent to others, is a reminder of hope and peace and joy and faith. Our non-Christian neighbors may never express it exactly like this, but there is something awe inspiring about this season even if you don’t celebrate the coming of Christ.
This year has only exacerbated that feeling. In the dread and dreary year of 2020, people want something to hope for. They want something to put their faith in. They need something that brings them joy. They desire peace from the never-ending news cycle of the election and Covid. They need only what Jesus can bring! Again, they cannot express their need for Christ, but they do know that they are looking for all those things above which only Christ can bring. It all points to a resounding truth: We need the message of Advent!
If you are a Christian and reading this, maybe this year has been a real struggle for you. Maybe you have lost a job, lost a loved one, or have been terribly depressed. I pray that you would take hope in the fact that you have placed your faith in One who has come to this earth, lived a perfect life according to the law, died on a cross taking your sin, and then rose again and ascended to the Father. 2020 will end. This virus will end. Your job loss will end. Your depression will end. But your Lord and Savior will reign forever! He will return and set all things right. Advent is a promise of that!
Maybe you’re reading this and you don’t know Christ. You have heard of Him. You know that at it’s origin, this season is a celebration of Christ’s birth. But the Gospel message, that is the message that God sent His Son to live a life we could not live,die a death on a cross that we deserved and be raised from the dead so that those who place their faith in Him can have eternal life, has eluded you. You may have a hard time believing something so wonderful can be true. In 2020, you are just trying to make it to tomorrow. I pray that you would ponder how faith in Christ might bring you hope, peace, and joy not only in this season but for the rest of your life.
Perhaps in 2020 we need the season of Advent more than we have in previous years. If anything 2020 has reminded all of us who are in Christ that this world is not our home. Life in Christ is incalculably better! This Advent season, may we cry what many have before: Come O’ Come, Immanuel.