The Anticipation of Advent
Anyone that knows me well knows that I have been listening to Christmas music since... well, since I was born, basically. The spirit of Christmas is one of hope, joy and expectation. In good faith I cannot relegate that to a single month of the year. There is one constant argument I hear against this, though: if you celebrate Christmas all year round then there is nothing special about Advent. I could not disagree more with this sentiment. The history of Advent itself points towards a posture of remembrance and preparation that accompanies an unceasing rejoicing in celebration of our God.
Remember back to how anxiously you awaited Christmas morning as a child. Think of how the children in the church now, or perhaps your own children or grandchildren, beam at the very mention of the day. All that excitement is really the product of only a few short weeks of focused anticipation (heightened greatly by the clever marketing and commercialization of the Holy Day). For the Jewish people, an anticipation that was much greater stirred their hearts for much, much longer.
Advent, which is derived from the Latin adventus, means “coming.” The four weeks of Advent serve as a time when Christians remember the anticipation of the prophets and people of God for the coming Messiah – our Jesus. For millennia they awaited this deliverance – this redemption that would come through the crushing of the serpent’s head by the offspring of Eve. (Genesis 3:18 NIV) They waited not just out of want, but out of need for the One who would establish the throne of David forever. (2 Samuel 7:5-16) Their waiting spanned generations and continents, great kingdoms and abusive servitude, wars and peace. During this time they glorified the Lord with their lives and disgraced Him with the same. They often forgot their need for His deliverance. So He reminded, and they remembered and waited.
Advent predicates the Christmas holiday on purpose. It is a call to remembrance. It is a call to remember our need for redemption. It reminds us of the Israelites inability to deliver themselves and our inability to deliver ourselves. In a sense, it is a call to remember the depths of our bondage to sin and darkness. And remember we do, because as Believers those days are a memory! With the arrival of Immanuel came the arrival of a new covenant, one of life. (Luke 22:20) This covenant was for the saving grace of God through the willful obedience of the Son to take our place as broken and sinful so that we might share in His rightful place as co-heirs of God (Romans 8:17).
The glory of that truth cannot be confined to a month of the year. The depth, radiance and beauty of the Savior of the world laying His head in a wooden manger so that He might lay it against a wooden cross cannot even be contained in a lifetime. Hallelujah that we have eternity to celebrate this!
So, yes, I will listen to Christmas music all year long! I will also be grateful for the Advent season each year and its posture of remembrance and anticipation. Do not forget, Church, that we, too, are still waiting. Our Savior is coming again. Hallelujah!
Merry Christmas! - Jason Simon, Minister to Students