by Julia M. Bruce, MSPC, Mental Health Coach,
Keynote Speaker, CEO, Wellspring Christian Ministries
Week 1 of Advent: Preparation for our Savior
The Advent season includes the four Sundays that precede Christmas. It is a time of preparation for the coming of the Lord. In this season, we recall two central elements of our faith: the final coming of the Lord in glory and the incarnation of the Lord in the birth of Jesus. During Advent there are three prevalent themes we see as we wait patiently for the coming of Christ. We long for the Messiah, are urged to be alert for Jesus’ Second Coming, and meditate on Christ’s presence in our lives now.
As we begin to set our focus on celebrating the true meaning of Christmas and the preparation of our hearts for the time when Christ will return again, let’s read what the prophet, Isaiah, wrote in Isaiah 2:1-5:
The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. Now it shall come to pass in the latter days That the mountain of the Lord’s house Shall be established on the top of the mountains, And shall be exalted above the hills; And all nations shall flow to it. Many people shall come and say, “Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, To the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, And we shall walk in His paths.”
For out of Zion shall go forth the law, And the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, And rebuke many people; They shall beat their swords into plowshares, And their spears into pruning hooks; Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, Neither shall they learn war anymore. O house of Jacob, come and let us walk In the light of the Lord.
The Preparation for Advent Focuses on Two Key Elements of our Faith
Four Sundays before Christmas Day begins a celebration known as Advent. It is a time of preparation for the coming of the Lord. During this season, we will focus on two key elements of our faith: the final coming of the Lord in glory and the incarnation of Christ at His birth. As we take time to pause, reflect, and prepare for the gift of God’s love coming to us through the baby Jesus. The scripture readings associated with Advent encourage proper preparation of our hearts and show us how to adore God in the Incarnation, as we recognize the glory of Jesus and how he frees us from sin and ingratitude. As we focus on the preparations of the coming of the Lord, we will hear from the prophet Isaiah and be drawn to the compelling message of John the Baptist in the Gospels.
What is Advent?
The word “Advent” is anglicized from the Latin word “Adventus” which means, “coming.” It is a season of expectant waiting and preparation. 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 of both of the original waiting that was done by the Hebrews for the birth of their Messiah as well as the waiting of Christ’s return from Heaven where He now sits at the right hand of God.
Advent is a joyful time for reflection and preparation
While the Advent season is a time for reflection and preparation, its mood is joyful. It proclaims the revelation of God’s love as expressed in Christ’s birth in a humble stable, His sacrificial death on the cross, and His victorious resurrection! It points to the hope of Christ’s coming again as the King of kings and Lord of lords. For us today, the church is in a similar situation to Israel at the end of the Old Testament: in exile, waiting and hoping in prayerful expectation for the coming of the Messiah.
Israel looked back to God’s past gracious actions on their behalf in leading them out of Egypt in the Exodus, and on this basis they called for God once again to act for them. God gave the prophet Isaiah a vision of hope that would include peace for the nation. Isaiah says that in days to come, the nations shall stream to the mountain of the Lord, and there we will beat swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks; there, we will learn war no more. God will teach us peace.
Peace on earth, goodwill toward men
That peace cannot happen without the birth of Christ, nor without his death and resurrection. Perhaps this is why the angels sang: “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” When Christ comes again, we will experience that peace. For today, we experience peace when we place our faith and trust in Christ who forgives us our sins and makes us a child of God. No longer are we enemies of God, but we have made peace with Him through Christ paying our sin debt and placing our faith in Him. So during Advent we both look back in remembrance of His birth that paves the way towards eternal peace and we look forward with expectation of His second coming and peace on earth.
Focus on the miracle of our Savior’s birth
May we not be like the innkeeper who had no room for Jesus. May our focus not be on the busyness and rushing in the holiday season or on buying and receiving gifts. Instead, let’s focus our minds on the miracle of when our Savior was born in a lowly stable and held in the arms of his virgin mother and the eternal peace that was ushered in along with His birth. May Christ give us a longing for His renewed presence among us.
This Christmas, may we be like the shepherds and come with haste to experience his presence. Like the wise men, may we bring Him our gifts. May we be like Mary and ponder all these things in our hearts. May we be like the angels and sing “Glory to God in the highest,” even as we proclaim our worship and adoration of our Savior. Like Joseph, may we obediently follow your instructions. And may we be like the star that shone brightly leading the wise men to the newborn King as we lead others to Jesus.
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God, Love and Marshmallow Wars by Julia M. Bruce
What’s Inside God, Love and Marshmallow Wars?
God, Love and Marshmallow Wars is a book that includes 365 daily activities and takes you on a guided journey through Biblical principles about Godly marriage that you can then apply to your marriage, as well as helping you talk through concepts that can help you develop a solid relationship. Inside you will find simple, quick activities that include:
- Scripture to memorize and meditate on.
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