“The Coming.” That’s what the word “advent” means. Depending on where, or if, you attend church, you may or may not be familiar with this term. Even if you ARE familiar with the term, you may still be wondering, “the coming of what?”
The observance of Advent is certainly not a requirement, in a biblical manner of speaking, but I pray that with this explanation you might discover the usefulness of a conscious participation in Advent this season, whether individually or with your immediate family or your local church body as a whole. In seasons past, I will admit that I have caved into an unhealthy amount of consumerism to go with my “Come all ye faithful.” Containing the urge to get swept up in all the holiday sales and mad rushes to the department stores can be an extremely difficult thing to do in this country in the 21st century. Especially with all the new gadgets they keep coming up with! To some of us, it may come as a complete surprise that “advent” is not a reference to “the coming” of the next generation of game consoles or the new iPhone 23.
So what IS this “coming” about?
The word “advent” is an English adaptation of the word adventus in Latin, which is, in turn, a translation of the Greek word, parousia, which in the New Testament often refers to the Second Coming of Jesus. So, in essence, we are not only participating in the lead-up to the Christmas celebration of the First Coming of the Messiah, but also looking forward to His triumphant return. We not only get to read, tell, and share the story of the birth of the Savior and feel that Christmas marvel at realizing that “God-with-us” began in that familiar manger scene, but now is also the time of anticipating the magnificent and terrifying return of the Conquering King and His impending judgement of the World. We can read the Old Testament prophecies about peace on earth and good will toward men, understanding and being thankful for the redemption and reconciliation we have been given as God’s people through this tiny bundle in a swaddling cloth. But we can also dive into and meditate on the promises that this Messiah is not yet finished. He will return!
These thoughts can be a sobering contrast to anxiously looking for the best price on Frozen merchandise and mind-numbing checkout lines at Walmart. I’m not going preach about the immorality of our product-addicted culture or shame you about overemphasizing the red-clad fat guy’s behaviorist legalism you’re instilling in your kids (you realize that, right?), but I will simply put in front of you here, a fantastic opportunity to do something different this year. In the evening before everyone heads to bed or in the morning before rushing out the door, take a few minutes to read to yourself or your family from one of the advent devotionals available. You might be amazed at the joy it can bring. Take time to remember what it is we’re celebrating. Praise the King Who Came, Died, Rose, and is Coming Again. Make a new tradition this holiday season. Advent has already started, but it’s still not too late to catch up.
Our family has been enjoying this Advent devotional from John Piper: http://www.desiringgod.org/books/good-news-of-great-joy (It’s free to download!)