Advent Lessons

I was right in the middle of a shopping meltdown! I was in a very small shopping booth at a Christmas flea market with my wife. Suddenly a herd of ladies moved into my space to look at the jewelry. That is when I went into a full meltdown! I had to make an escape. I moved to the right and a lady moved in behind me. This was going from bad to worse and even dangerous. So, like the gentleman my mother taught me to be, I began to say excuse me as I moved through the crowd. Upon exiting the booth into fresh air, I overheard a conversation that caught my attention.

“Look at this children’s book on Advent,” one of the ladies said.

“Advent? That must be something from the Jewish religion,” another lady mumbled.

With my shopping meltdown subsiding, I almost broke out in a short sermon. Advent is not Jewish, but Christian. The very term advent comes from the Latin adventus, meaning “coming.” The Jewish nation of 30 A.D. was not looking for a coming Messiah and neither was the lady in the tiny booth. But I am.

How did the celebration of Advent begin? “ Scholars believe that during the 4th and 5th centuries in Spain and Gaul, Advent was a season of preparation for the baptism of new Christians at the January feast of Epiphany, the celebration of God’s incarnation represented by the visit of the Magi to the baby Jesus (Matthew 2:1), his baptism in the Jordan River by John the Baptist (John 1:29), and his first miracle at Cana (John 2:1). During this season of preparation, Christians would spend 40 days in penance, prayer, and fasting to prepare for this celebration; originally, there was little connection between Advent and Christmas. By the 6th century, however, Roman Christians had tied Advent to the coming of Christ. But the “coming” they had in mind was not Christ’s first coming in the manger in Bethlehem, but his second coming in the clouds as the judge of the world. It was not until the Middle Ages that the Advent season was explicitly linked to Christ’s first coming at Christmas.”

The four Sunday’s before Christmas Day are set aside for the teaching of the first and second coming of Jesus Christ. Each Sunday carries a different theme hope, prophecy (patience in waiting), joy, and love. It is common to find daily devotional readings that coincide with these themes for individual study. Around the same time period of the beginning of Advent, a wreath with four candles for each Sunday and one candle for Christmas Eve began to be part of the Advent celebration.

The organization of Advent Sundays or Advent wreath is not found in Scripture, but hope, prophecy, joy, and love are found through out the Bible. So, should Christians celebrate the season of Advent? It is not commanded nor is it prohibited.

If you and your family decide to celebrate the season of Advent, do so from the teachings of Scripture, not the traditions of men or churches. Use Advent as a tool to instill truth in children and hope in adults. Our families and churches are in need of healthy portions of hope, love, joy and patience. Any family devotion during the Christmas season that teaches Scripture, practices prayer, and shares joy is a good habit!

I believe Jesus Christ left heaven to enter the virgin’s womb to be born a human being. I believe that baby boy grew into a man that proclaimed to the world He was the Son of God. I believe that Christ was crucified to death, buried in a tomb, and rose from the dead on the third day. I believe His first advent leads to His second advent (coming).

Have a happy Christmas celebrating His first coming, and take time to celebrate His second coming as well!



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