This coming Sunday marks the beginning of the Advent season. I love this time of the year. Beginning the fourth Sunday before Christmas, the church since the fourth century has celebrated the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ by focusing attention on the Old Testament promise of His coming, the realization of the promise in His Incarnation, and the blessed hope of our Lord’s Second Coming. Advent is designed to nurture in Christ’s church joyful expectation and humble reverence.
Like last year, I am planning a special pulpit series for Advent. I plan to consider Advent as a promise made (Isaiah 9:1-7), a promise realized (John 1:14-18), a promise lived (Romans 12:1-2), and a promise coming (Revelation 1:7).
We will also bring back our Advent wreath with the four candles around the outside of the evergreens and the one white candle in the center. The Advent wreath is a beautiful symbol of the everlasting life that came when the Light of the World entered our sin-darkened existence.
As I type I am listening to a wonderful rendition of one of my favorite Advent hymns, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” I love this twelfth century poem for the way it reminds me of Christ’s first coming even as I long for His second.
O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.
Advent declares to the world the wonderful truth that the angel announced over two thousand years ago: ““Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11). Indeed, God is with us. And so we sing, “Come, Lord Jesus” (Rev. 22:20).