Opening the little flaps of Advent calendars to reveal small presents or candy is a fun way to countdown the days of Christmas. However, the season of Advent is much more than a calendar or festive tally system. Remembering Christ’s first coming around 2,000 years ago while also anticipating His second coming is the true hallmark of Advent. The Christ-child who came on the first Christmas will soon return as the mighty King of kings (Revelation 17:14).
Observing annual traditions for Advent is important to the universal church, but individual Christians can also grow in their relationship with Christ during this season by making an intentional effort to reflect on the significance of Christmas.
Instead of viewing the worship services, devotionals, and other observances of Advent as holiday rituals, believers can refocus on their Savior and experience a stronger closeness with Him. By meditating on Jesus’ first coming and anticipating His second coming, Christians can deepen their walks of faith and cultivate an ongoing desire to know Him more.
Remembering the First Christmas
“Waiting” is a keyword to describe the background of the first Christmas and the Advent season. The people of Israel were waiting to hear from God and anticipating the coming Messiah whom they believed would free Israel from Roman rule.
From the Lord’s perspective, He was patiently preparing the coming of His Son by setting in place the events for Christ’s birth. While the people of Israel had developed the false idea that the Messiah would be a military hero, Jesus broke into the scene of history as a humble baby born in a manger (Luke 2:7, 12).
Israel may have been expecting Christ to be a warrior who would fight against the Romans, but His purpose for coming was far greater. Instead of bringing military freedom, Jesus Christ brought freedom from sin and death (Romans 8:2; 1 Corinthians 15:57).
He is the Savior, Christ the Lord, who came to save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21; Luke 2:11). As Simeon, a devout follower of God, declared when he saw the newly born infant, “my eyes have seen [God’s] salvation” (Luke 2:30).
Simeon, like Anna the Prophetess, had waited many, long years to see Christ (Luke 2:25, 36-38). They were both well advanced in years but rejoiced that the Lord had finally come in answer to their prayers.
Because Advent is a season of waiting, believers can practice waiting on God’s timing and trusting Him in the process during this time, especially if they are waiting for answers to prayers or new seasons of life to start. Jesus came to earth at exactly the right time to accomplish His saving purpose (Romans 5:6).
He is reliable and knows what is best for the lives of His followers. Instead of despairing over unanswered prayers or becoming impatient with life circumstances, Christians can deliberately choose to wait on the Lord (Psalm 27:14).
By celebrating Advent, believers can intentionally grow in Christ by being reminded to look to and cling to their Lord during difficult seasons of waiting. As Savior and Friend, Christ will encourage and strengthen His followers to patiently wait for His good timing and will.
Anticipating Christ’s Return
In addition to providing a time to reflect on Jesus’ first coming to provide salvation to all who believe, observing Advent also enables believers to deliberately think about His second coming. Just as “waiting” is an important word to describe Advent, “hope” is another keyword for this season.
Christ brought hope at His first coming and believers today hope in His return when He will restore all things (Ephesians 1:10; Revelation 21:5). The second coming of Jesus Christ is not a wishful thought, but a solid and assured hope because of Scripture’s promises (Acts 1:11). As Jesus Himself says, “Yes, I am coming soon” (Revelation 22:20).
On that day, death and sin will no longer have any power or hold on followers of Christ (1 Corinthians 15:55; Revelation 20:14; 21:27). Every tear will be wiped away and suffering will cease (Revelation 21:4).
For all eternity, believers will be in the Lord’s presence and worship Him (Revelation 22:3). This wonderful hope is the basis for expecting Jesus’ second coming. He will come to make all things right.
The Advent season beautifully reminds believers to have hope. Even though circumstances in life might be dark and difficult, Advent reminds believers that they have a wonderful future coming when Christ returns. He will make all things new and banish suffering and grief. Christians need only hope and wait.
As Dietrich Bonhoeffer stated in his book, God is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas, “The Advent season is a season of waiting, but our whole life is an Advent season, that is, a season of waiting for the last Advent, for the time when there will be a new heaven and a new earth.”
What a wonderful and glorious reminder Advent and Christmas brings to followers of Christ.
Developing a Regular Time with God
Participating in events related to Advent allows Christians to deliberately take time out of their busy and hectic schedules to reflect on the truth that Jesus came to save them and is going to return soon. Thoughts about His first or second coming may not be a regular part of some Christian’s lives but celebrating Advent can change this.
Focusing on eternity and talking to God about one’s excitement for their promised future with Him can radically transform a person’s life by encouraging them to live for Christ and take time to cultivate their eternal relationship with their Savior and Lord.
Lighting Advent candles, reading devotionals, and worshiping God during special church services are all important traditions during Advent. By taking part in these activities, believers can start to develop a regular time to spend with God as an extension of the Advent season.
Throughout the year, they can remember the life-changing truths of Jesus’ first and second comings by regularly talking to God through prayer, reading His Word, and engaging in spiritually enriching activities such as reading scriptural devotional books and connecting with a local church.
Personal time spent with God during Advent can aid Christians in being disciplined the rest of the year to invest in their relationship with the Lord, trust in Him, and find hope in Christ’s second coming.
By cultivating their relationship with God, believers will find their walk with Christ deepening, their faith growing stronger, and their lives gradually transformed by the Lord. Thus, celebrating the few weeks of Advent before Christmas can potentially change a person’s life.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer reflected this truth in his devotional book when he said, “Advent creates people, new people.” So, this Christmas season, consider how God can use lessons of waiting and hope from Advent to help you grow and deepen your relationship with Him. Surely, being changed by Advent because of time spent with Christ would be a wonderful gift to receive this Christmas.
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Sophia Bricker is a freelance writer who enjoys researching and writing articles on biblical and theological topics. In addition to contributing articles about biblical questions as a contract writer, she has also written for Unlocked devotional. She holds a BA in Ministry, a MA in Ministry, and is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing to develop her writing craft. As someone who is passionate about the Bible and faith in Jesus, her mission is to help others learn about Christ and glorify Him in her writing. When she isn’t busy studying or writing, Sophia enjoys spending time with family, reading, drawing, and gardening.