Note: Advent is what we call the season leading up to Christmas. It begins four Sundays before December 25, sometimes in the last weekend of November, sometimes on the first Sunday in December. This year it will be November 27.
Our Father in Heaven,
As we begin this Advent season, a time of celebrating the first coming of your Son – the incarnation, when Jesus came to earth, to be born of a virgin in a manger – and waiting and preparing with hope for His second coming, we take a moment to consider just what that means for us, and the world.
Christmas in our culture is a mix of two very different celebrations. One, is filled with traditions – Santa Claus, gift giving, Christmas trees, lights, festive sweaters, holiday music, precious time with family we may see only a few times a year – and I love all the joy that these aspects of Christmas bring.
But there is another, very different Christmas celebration that Christians look forward to – the birth of Jesus, our Lord and Savior. And many times, the two celebrations get oddly mixed:
Peace on Earth will come to all
If we just follow the light
Let’s give thanks to the Lord above,
‘Cause Santa Claus comes tonight.
“Here Comes Santa Claus”
Many of our preparations for Christmas focus on Jesus’ humble birth in a manger, and yes, of course, the Bible tells us that is true. But that baby, although in many ways was an ordinary human baby, he was also very much different from an ordinary baby. For that baby was God incarnate. Jesus was fully human, and also fully God.
Jesus came to this fallen world, and lived a life, a perfect life, that we couldn’t live. And though unpopular in our culture, Jesus is the only way to you, Almighty God, there is no other way. He himself said:
I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)
But more than coming to earth to live as one of us, Jesus also came to die a death we couldn’t die. In a great exchange, on the cross, Jesus took on the past, present and future sins of all of his people, and in a wonderful exchange, gave us his righteousness; he lived a perfect life in our place.
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
So, for Christians, Advent is a time for preparing to celebrate the incarnation – Jesus’ coming to this world, truly man and truly God, to save us from our sins. Father, we eagerly wait in prayerful expectation the second advent of your Son, just as we celebrate his first advent. Though Christmas Day comes only once a year, we want to remember, celebrate, and worship, Jesus, our Savior and Lord, each and every day as we wait for his second coming.
O come, O come, Immanuel,
and ransom captive Israel
that mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear.
“O Come, O Come Immanuel”
In Jesus name, Amen