A NOT-SO-WHITE CHRISTMAS
Part 3: The Advent
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone…
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:2, 6
Advent. What comes to mind when you think of the word “advent”? Some will automatically think of the advent wreath from which we would light 4 pink and purple candles (signifying Hope, Love, Joy, and Peace) on a wreath; the 5th white candle, usually placed at the center of the wreath, signifies Jesus Christ. These candles are lit on the four Sundays before Christmas day—when finally, the white candle is lit—signifying the coming of Christ.
Whenever this picture comes to our mind, we would tend to see these things as ritualistic ceremonies or religious expression without going deeper into the actual meaning and message behind the act.
In Christian Orthodox traditions, the celebration of the Advent season is usually inaugurated on the 4th Sunday before Christmas day. It is a sort of countdown until the final day of Christmas when Christians all over the world celebrate the birth of the Savior, Jesus Christ.
The word “Advent”, is actually from a Latin word that means a “coming”, an “arrival”, or an “appearing”. Advent in turn, recognizes and eagerly awaits the coming, arrival, and appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Advent season essentially upholds the long awaited Messiah of Israel who would come to redeem the nation and not only that, but to rescue and restore the broken world as well.
For us Christians today, Advent means that we look back at the initial coming of the Savior Jesus Christ, when, as foretold by the prophets of old, the Messiah would come and rescue His people. We celebrate what has already happened in the birth of our dear Lord—who though He was God, became Human for us so that He could live a perfect life. His perfect life would then be imputed to us on the Cross while He torturously died for all our sins. He rose again to signify that indeed, the price for our wicked sins has been paid for and that death and sin no longer hold us in spiritual bondage.
Don’t miss it. This is only the story of the First Advent.
Christians today can celebrate Advent as a means to look forward to a future reality that is soon to come; there is a Second Advent for all of us to eagerly await and anticipate: this is the Second Coming of Christ wherein He will finish what He started 2015 years ago and bring the renewal of all things in His midst (Revelation 21).
We have a great and astounding reason to rejoice and be excited!
Amidst the current darkness that we live in, God speaks a word of hope to us as He did in the ancient days: our Savior will come to finally defeat our celestial enemy Satan, and deliver us into God’s redemption. Just as the signs of the ancient prophets pointed out to the Advent of this King, now, we too have signs of Jesus’ soon and eventual return. The time is surely near.
The symbol of the Advent wreath brings us into its full meaning when we see that Jesus Christ, the Light of the World (Matthew 4:16; John 1:4-9; 8:12), is indeed coming into the world. The theme of Advent is this ever-increasing light penetrating our current darkness and in this we see the hope of the Good News, a picture of the Gospel.
The Light of Advent truly reminds us believers of God’s faithfulness in the past as He gave His Only Son, out of His divine love, to save us from perishing in our iniquities. It’s a time to look onto the One who was sent to overcome our sinful devices, our dark circumstances, and our deathly situations.
As Dr. Timothy Keller said,
“In this advent season, we are called to look to the Lord’s coming by an examination of our hearts and in hope for a day when all things will be made new.”
The First Advent was marked in silence, humility, and simplicity. The Second Advent will be heard by all, known by every tribe, and will be gloriously majestic—so much so that every knee will bow on earth and in heaven and confess that Jesus Christ is indeed Lord of all (Philippians 2:10-11). This is the season to remember that Christ has come and to rejoice that He will come again at the end of the age!
Closing Hymnal Lyric for reflection:
“Come, Thou long expected Jesus Born to set Thy people free; From our fears and sins release us, Let us find our rest in Thee. Israel’s Strength and Consolation, Hope of all the earth Thou art; Dear Desire of every nation, Joy of every longing heart.
Born Thy people to deliver, Born a child and yet a King, Born to reign in us forever, Now Thy gracious kingdom bring. By Thine own eternal Spirit Rule in all our hearts alone; By Thine all sufficient merit, Raise us to Thy glorious throne.”
Was there ever a point in your life where you were situated in darkness (troubling circumstances, sinful bondage, or worldly delight)? How did you feel in your predicament and from where did you get your hope?
These are the titles of the Messiah as pointed out by Isaiah, that reflect His Character and Attributes:
- Wonderful Counselor – Gently probing us and searching our hearts for (Psalm 139:23);
- He counsels, comforts, and encourages us wonderfully, we are left in awe.
- Mighty God – He is mighty to save us out of any problem (Zephaniah 3:17), rely on His strength, not yours.
- Everlasting Father – He is a good Father who cares for you, loves you deeply, and wants to be present in your life (2 Corinthians 1:3-4); He forgives you if you confess to Him and depend on Him for mercy (1 John 1:9).
- Prince of Peace – He is the Prince (sole authority) who is able to give you everlasting, immediate, and incomprehensible peace that can withstand any challenge and guard your heart and your mind (Philippians 4:7).
Ponder on these traits of the Lord and pray to Him on how He can be your Hope for the situation you are in and the Light into your present darkness.
To continue this devotional series, please see Part 4: Do You Believe In (Christmas) Miracles?: The Incarnation