Advent season has begun. Many churches and Christians observe specific rituals and remembrances during advent season. Special candles are lit, and Scriptures are read. Some families have advent devotions. Some followers of Jesus will read through the advent accounts in the Gospels.
For many however, the theological implications of advent have been overshadowed by the commercialization of the Christmas holidays: Christmas movies that don’t contain any references to Christ; shopping and gift buying with only minimal interest in the needs of others; busyness and bustle that stretches and stresses us as the year wanes away.
Let me encourage you not to bind yourself to the commercialization of the Christmas season. Remember that Christmas is advent.
Advent means the arrival of someone notable or important.
When we discuss advent, we are not talking about your friends or family coming over for the holidays. Nor do we mean the jolly old Saint Nick arriving to leave presents at your house.
Advent means the arrival of the Christ-child. The arrival of the Christ-child more than 2000 years ago invites us to experience what is meaningful.
Advent is a time to reflect. Reflect on the Christ who came into the world. Make time for gathered worship at your church. Make time to read the Bible, especially the Gospels. Make time to think about the events of the Advent and especially the One who came.
Advent is a time to refocus. Refocus on the reason Christ came. Jesus did not arrive in the world to bring us presents and financial blessings. He is not a religious version of Santa Claus. Jesus is Lord, and as we are reminded in one of my favorite carols, Jesus was Lord at birth (“Silent Night”). Jesus did not come that we might sentimentalize the Christmas season. Jesus came with a ministry and a mission to serve, preach, and bring salvation. Advent is important because of Jesus’ passion and resurrection.
So as you focus on the Christ-child, remember that he grew up to be our substitute on Calvary’s cross.Tweet
Advent is a time to renew. Renew your commitment to Jesus Christ. Are you following Jesus? Or are you following your own way of life? Jesus did not come merely to save us. He came to remake us. Jesus doesn’t merely invite us to experience forgiveness. He invites us to experience regeneration. Jesus does not only call us to meet him. He calls us to follow him. Advent is a time to renew your commitment as a Christ-follower.
Here are some specific ways for you to renew your commitment to Christ this advent season:
- Make time to read the advent stories and thank Jesus for coming. If you are not currently reading the Bible regularly, why don’t you begin December 1 by reading one chapter a day in the Gospel of Matthew or the Gospel of Luke. Or here is a link to an advent devotional by John Piper. For the first 25 days of December, thank God for one specific thing he has done for you because of advent.
- Rekindle an old advent tradition or begin a new one. Make a meal (or cookies) for someone who is lonely. Buy Christmas gifts for a family in need (parents, have your children help with this and involve them in generosity). Go caroling. Embrace the joy of the shepherds who just had to tell what they had seen on that first Christmas night.
- Be present at gathered worship. The pandemic has had a detrimental effect on church attendance. Sure, it is convenient to watch at home or to not go at all. But one way to renew your commitment to Christ is to make time to be in gathered worship. You need it, and your fellow church members need to see you there as well. Let your worship this advent season renew your faith in Jesus.
- Invite others to meet Christ. Christmas traditions and trappings are beautiful. Enjoy your tree, the meals, the gatherings, and the presents. But never forget that Christmas would mean little without the cross. Jesus came to save not to make us sentimental. Give someone the greatest gift this season. Invite them to receive eternal life by following Jesus.
Above all, celebrate the Christ who came to bring us life.