The Christmas season can often feel overwhelming for numerous individuals. That's why we're embarking on a fresh series aptly named ADVENT. In essence, it signifies the imminent arrival as we eagerly await the birth of our Savior, Jesus. We hope and pray that the upcoming weeks won't merely revolve around shopping, cooking, and festive decorations. Instead, we aim for this period to serve as an opportunity to realign our hearts with what truly holds significance — such as God's love, peace, and hope!
EMBRACING THE MEANING OF ADVENT
What is Advent? To grasp the essence of this profound season, we delve into its etymology—Advent is a Latin term signifying "coming" or "arrival." It unfolds over four weeks in the Christian calendar, leading up to the cherished Christmas Eve. Advent encompasses reflection on the initial arrival of Jesus, known as the First Advent, and anticipation of his future return as the Glorious King—the Second Advent. The heart of Advent lies in the intertwining themes of hope and expectation, urging believers worldwide to pause, declutter their lives, connect with God, and rediscover the profound love embodied by Jesus.
The Advent celebration is deeply rooted in tradition, with the Church cultivating meaningful practices over the last millennium. These include engaging scripture readings from ancient prophets like Isaiah, whose prophecies foretold the Messiah's birth in Bethlehem—a Savior destined to rescue Israel and humanity. Sacred hymns, such as the timeless "O Come All Ye Faithful" and the symbolic lighting of candles on the Advent Wreath, contribute to the rich tapestry of this season, inviting families to participate in these profound rituals that transcend time.
RESIST THE RUSH!
In a world where the Christmas season often succumbs to commercial chaos, Advent stands as a counter-cultural invitation to slow down and rediscover the true essence of the holiday. The prevailing culture prioritizes consumerism and spending during the festive season, pushing individuals into a whirlwind of gatherings, gift exchanges, and extravagant decorations. Yet, the call of Advent is to resist this frenetic pace, encouraging a deliberate clearing of clutter—both physical and spiritual—to create space for the arrival of Jesus. A good example of this would be the posture of Mary– who was just a girl of 13-14 years old when God visited her. The Gospel of Luke 1:28-33 records it this way: The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
Advent, as a "holy day," challenges the prevailing narrative of materialistic celebrations. It presents a counter-narrative, reminding believers of the ultimate gift—God's presence. In contrast to the cultural emphasis on spending as an expression of love, Advent underscores that true love is demonstrated through selfless giving, echoing the divine act of God giving Himself in the form of His Son for the salvation of humanity. The season encourages a shift from the bustling mall to the humble manger, urging individuals to embrace a Riches-to-Rags story, where the Almighty relinquishes divine glory to be with us.
EMBRACE HOPE, WORSHIP, AND SURRENDER
As Advent unfolds, it beckons believers to engage in intentional practices embodying the season's core themes—Hope, Worship, and Surrender. The Advent Wreath, a symbol rich in meaning, with its candles representing hope, faith, joy, and peace, guides families through the journey of anticipation. Each candle lit signifies a week closer to the Advent of the Savior, culminating in the central Christ candle illuminating the profound truth that Jesus is the Light of the world.
Clearing the clutter in our physical spaces and hearts is the second crucial call of Advent. Inspired by the humble yet obedient posture of Mary, who, despite uncertainties, declared in Luke 1:38, "I am the Lord's servant," believers are encouraged to declutter their souls, making room for the birth of Immanuel—God with us. This deliberate act of surrender and openness mirrors the Christmas story, where Mary's worship amidst upheaval becomes a template for facing uncertainties with humility and trust. She had a heart ready to receive Immanuel or God with us. Immanuel is a Hebrew name from the book of Isaiah that means, “God with us.” And Isaiah prophesied (predicted) that name of the Messiah 700 years before the advent of Jesus in Isaiah 7:14: “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign; The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”
In conclusion, Advent is not merely a historical commemoration but a living tradition that beckons believers to immerse themselves in the timeless themes of hope, worship, and surrender. As we celebrate the 1-year milestone of understanding and growth, may this Advent season be a transformative journey, slowing down to embrace the profound miracle of God's love and making room for the eternal presence of Jesus Christ.
For more encouragement, support, and tools to equip you, we encourage you to check out these additional resources:
- MESSAGE: To watch the complete message from Liquid Church's New Series, Advent - Week One, "People of Hope," Click here.
- ARTICLE: It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! In this article, we compiled 10 Bible Verses About Christmas to help you worship Jesus Christ, God’s one and only son, in this time of celebration. We pray that these Bible verses will help you meditate on the wondrous moment when God entered our world to make things right. Click here
- MESSAGE: How do you show people kindness in the most stressful, frantic, fast-paced, and anxiety producing season of the year? In this message be challenged to do two things: 1) Help anyone hurting around you: God will put someone in your path this week who’s hurting and needs help. Get personally involved. 2) Forgive people when they mess up: Who’s hurt you recently that you can bless? You can offer forgiveness and do good to them. To watch, Click here.