Summary: The season of advent anticipates the coming of Christ from three different perspectives. Messiah coming into history, Messiah coming into our hearts and lives; and it alerts for His second coming as the King. Advent has past, present and future in itself.
In the Christian calendar, the new year starts on the fourth Sunday before Christmas day (December 25). It is called the advent Sunday and the season of advent is for four weeks that ends on Christmas eve. It is a season observed as a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the birth of Jesus. The term is an English version of the Latin word adventus, meaning 'coming'. The season of advent anticipates the coming of Christ from three different perspectives. It offers an opportunity to share in the ancient longing for the coming of the Messiah into history. It also signifies the longing for the coming of the Messiah into our hearts and lives; and it alerts for His second coming as the King. Advent has past, present and future in itself.
The Bible tells us that God sent a man named John to prepare the way for the coming of Jesus. John told the people to make a highway in the desert for their God, make the crooked ways straight and to make the rough places smooth. John wasn't really talking about building a highway upon which Jesus could travel. He was talking about the hearts of the people. “Repent for the Kingdom of heaven is near” (Matthew 3:2). Advent season is the preparation of our hearts to recieve the savior by repentance of our sins and praying for God's forgiveness.
Repentance is not a common word used in modern vocabulary. Recently a reporter asked a celebrity, “Are you a Christian?”. He said, "Yes I am." "Do you ever ask for forgiveness, do you ever repent?” He said, "I don’t make many mistakes, but when I make a mistake, I will correct it, and I don’t bring Jesus into that.” Advent calls for a recognition of the fact that man needs a saviour to save from sin.
Every year during this time we get busy preparing for the holidays by spending lots on things we don’t need and get into financial trouble after the holidays. We buy gadgets, entertainment, food, alcohol, drugs, sports, travel, work, religion, or take part in a lot of church activities. Many complain about the busyness of Christmas. “There is so much to do: presents to make or choose, food to prepare, and so many functions to attend. Christmas is just one big headache,” a person said. The purpose of advent season is to prepare ourselves and others to welcome the Christ child into our homes and into our lives.
During these four weeks many churches visit homes with singing carols. People prepare meals or Christmas cakes and make an effort to reach out to those who find this season difficult. Many use this time for Bible study, visiting the sick, and tending to the homeless. The season of Advent reminds us to clean up our hearts from all evil, and "make the crooked paths straight and rough places smooth" (Isaiah 40:4) in order for us to truly experience the journey to Bethlehem and see the baby in the manger, the Holy Son of God.
John called on the people to prepare the way of the Lord by producing 'fruit consistent with repentance' (Matthew 3:8). The Pharisees laid their foundation on works and outward observances while neglecting the poor and ignoring the suffering. As a tree is known by its fruit, so repentance is known by good works. Our corrupt hearts cannot produce good fruit, unless the regenerating Spirit of Christ graft the good word of God upon them.
The Mission of Advent is explained in Isaiah Chapter 40, verse 5: "the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together”. During this special season of the year when we bear the fruit of repentance through our words and actions, the celebration of Jesus' birth will become the revelation of God's glory. Some churches display banners or wreaths in the sacnctuary to remind about hope, joy, peace and love that the season of advent brings to the world. Advent is a time of transformation of our paths of life when every valley of our lives shall be lifted up with hope, and every mountain and hill be made low by the joy; the rough grounds in our lives shall become level by the peace and the rugged places will become smooth by the love that the little baby in the manger offers. God sent His Son to this world as a sinless man to bear the sins of the world, so that the world may be filled with the radiance of God's righteousness.
A prince was travelling through a very poor section of his country. Looking through the window of his carriage, he saw a beautiful young peasant girl walking along the street. He was so attracted to her that he continued to come to the town, day after day, just to see her. His heart yearned for her, but how could a royal family member establish a relationship with a peasant girl? He could order her to marry him with his power. He could put on his royal garments and impress her which would have overwhelmed her. But he wanted this girl to love him from the heart. One day, he gave up his kingly robe and symbols of power and privilege. He moved into the village dressed as a peasant and lived among the people, shared their interests and concerns, and talked their language. In time, the young peasant girl grew to know him, and then to love him. In a sense, that is what Jesus has done for us. Instead of overwhelming us with His might and power, He humbled Himself, put aside His heavenly robes and divine prerogatives. He came to us as one of us and lived among us to win our love.