It’s likely that you’ve at least heard of the Christmas story before. You had Mary and Joseph, a miraculous birth in a stable in little Bethlehem, and the supporting cast of angels, shepherds, and wise men . . . Since you may already be familiar with all of this, what is the purpose of reflecting on Advent?
Because Advent is the foundation of our faith.
"Advent," stemming from the Latin word "adventus," which came from a translation of the Greek word "parousia," actually held a double meaning. It didn't only refer to the first coming of Christ in Bethlehem, but also to His second coming when He will one day return. Advent also describes where we are in history. We live between the first coming of Jesus and the second coming of Jesus. We wait for Him to come again to restore us, to give us "a new heaven and a new earth" (Revelation 21:1).
Therefore, we have the opportunity this season to not only celebrate and remember the miracle that happened on that first Christmas, but also to respond with hope and joy as we look ahead to the second Advent. It isn't just God’s past faithfulness we recall, but also His faithfulness now and His faithfulness when Christ will one day return.
And there is so much faithfulness to cover, as Advent shouldn't just involve Matthew 1 and Luke 1–2. There are miracles and fulfilled prophecies and promises and truths throughout God’s Word that remind us we were created for more, that remind us why we wait.
It can be easy—normal, even—to decorate a tree and display a Nativity scene as December dawns, to dress up for the Christmas Eve service a few weeks later, and call it a day. But there is just so much more to Advent, to this story of God’s faithfulness.
Advent should push us to see that God is true to His promises, for those Old Testament prophecies were fulfilled by the birth of Jesus. Advent should be a reminder of what (Who) we are waiting for, like the Israelites waited for the Messiah. Advent should make us realize He came for the sinners: Tamar, Ruth, David, and you and me. Advent should inspire us to respond with joy like the unborn John the Baptist. Advent should usher us to magnify God like Mary. Advent should lead us to trust God and respond with obedience like Joseph. Advent should urge us to spread the good news like the shepherds.
Most of all, Advent should give us hope. Hebrews 10:23 says, "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful."
That is the hope of Advent: that He who promised is faithful. Faithful 2,000+ years ago, faithful today, and faithful in the days and years to come.
Jesus came on that first Christmas, and He’s coming again. And as we await the second Advent, we can find a thrill of hope that only He could bring.