The word “Advent” is Anglicized from the Latin word “Adventus” which means, “coming.” It is a season of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas. Before the birth of Christ, the people waited for His coming. They had hope in the promise of God that he would send the Messiah. Today, Christians look forward to the second coming of Christ. The day when the trumpet sounds and those of us who are alive will join Jesus in the clouds to spend eternity with him. The Latin word “adventus” is a translation of the Greek word “Parousia” commonly used in reference to the Second Coming of Christ. For Christians, the season of Advent serves as a reminder both of the original waiting that was done by the Hebrews for the birth of their Messiah as well as the waiting of Christians for Christ’s return from Heaven where He now sits at the right hand of God. Today, our hope and our Advent is looking for Christ to come again.
There is also another hope we can find in these verses. For those of us who have lost loved ones and the holidays seem like there is a big hole and our heart long for the day we see them again, verse 16 tells us that those who died knowing Christ as Savior will rise first. Their soul is already in heaven, but their physical bodies will rise from their graves and be instantly transformed into a heavenly body just as ours will be. This means that in the split second when we join Jesus in the air, our loved ones will already be there. Then all of us will spend eternity with Jesus.
Eternity. Forever. Today, at Christmas time, we decorate our homes with evergreens…the Christmas tree, wreaths, garlands. Holly, Ivy, Pine, and Fir are all evergreens because they never change color. Unlike other trees, the leaves don’t die and fall off…they are ever green, even in the midst of winter. Just like those of us who believe in Jesus as our Savior are ever His and will experience eternal life. Like evergreens, when we experience seasons of “winter” in our lives, the hard and difficult times, we will still be alive in Christ who gives us peace and strength to get through those seasons. Lastly, evergreens symbolize the unchanging nature of our God, and they remind us of the everlasting life that is our through Jesus Christ.
Evergreens are one of the most universal decorations of Christmas and is used in homes and churches. Among the ancient Romans, evergreens were an emblem of peace, joy and victory. The early Christians placed them in their windows to indicate that Christ had entered the home. In ancient times, holly and ivy were considered signs of Christ’s passion. Their prickly leaves suggested the crown of thorns. The red berries represented the blood He shed. The bitter bark is a symbol of the bitter drink offered to Jesus on the cross.
We even find in the Bible where evergreens were used to beautify the sanctuary. Isaiah 40:13 says, “The Glory of Lebanon shall come unto you the fir tree, the pine tree and the box together, to beautify the place of your sanctuary. Isaiah also tells us that there will be no end to the reign of the messiah. The wreaths that we hang at Christmas are in a circle, which has no end, signifying the eternal reign of Jesus Christ.
Our forefathers called the procuring of these evergreens, “Bringing home Christmas!” Have you brought Christ into your home this holiday season? Do you have the hope of meeting our Lord in the clouds and spending eternity with Him? Eternity with Jesus…now that is a happily ever-after!
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