Sunday, December 3, marks the beginning of Advent 2017, the Christian season where the church remembers the anticipation of Jesus’s coming. On one hand, we look back on past generations who waited in darkness for the coming of Messiah; and on the other hand, we anticipate in this moment the Second Coming of Jesus, the Messiah, at the end of the age.
This season of waiting culminates on Christmas Day, the great day of rejoicing and mirth, the day of dreams come true. It’s a day recognized by cultures around the world as set apart in its hope for peace and joy.
And it’s more than just a day.
In the traditional Christian calendar, Christmas Day is just the beginning of the Christmas season, a twelve-day celebration that only makes sense for those who believe there’s truly something worth celebrating a whole season long.
And then it’s more than just a season.
Christmas it special enough as what it is regardless of when it is, but there’s even greater significance when we consider that it comes at the close of one year and the cusp of another. The season has this sense of fulfillment and finishing, which is all just setting us up for more to come. And in this way, Advent and Christmas are a microcosm of Christian hope overall. And I mean, Christian hope in terms of the whole history of the world and what we’re doing here.
Christians are a people of anticipation, of waiting and wanting and looking forward to the day when Jesus returns. And when Jesus finally does return, it will only mean the beginning — the new beginning — of a whole new world. It will be a world where everyday feels like Christmas morning, but a zillion times better.
It is important, first, that we recognize this hope, and then there’s being awake to all the things around us that point to it, even in the most uncommon places.
Just imagine the lyrics resounding in shopping malls throughout the country, or the words on Christmas cards stacked in your mailman’s bag. Or even take the festive colored coffee cups dished out all day everyday for the next month. They don’t have to say “Christmas” for us to know they’re special. They’re special because the season is special, and the season is special because God has invaded our world as a human like us ... as a Savior come to save us. And that means people have reason to be happy, even if they’re not sure why.
On that note, it’s my prayer that God gives us eyes to see the wonder of Jesus in fresh ways this Advent. I pray that we catch this wonder in the little things too easily overlooked, and I pray that we discover this wonder through the painstaking, intentional effort of spiritual disciplines, whether that means personal Bible reading on your own or using an Advent devotional guide such as John Piper’s Good News of Great Joy, which is pretty much available in any format you could imagine. There’s also eight more resources recommended at The Gospel Coalition.
The best time to start a new routine is any time, but especially during Christmastime. Beginning Sunday, December 3 through Sunday, December 24, would you consider weaving into your daily rhythms a practical way to stop and anticipate the coming of Jesus?
Because he has come, and he will come again.