What is Advent?
I remember being a little boy watching families in my church light Advent candles on the Sundays leading up to Christmas and not really having any idea what they were doing or why they were doing it. You may have been a part of an Advent service in the past and had similar questions so let me take me in these few words answer the question, What is Advent?
The word advent comes from the Latin adventus which means “coming.” It is a time for the church to commemorate the first coming of Christ and to look forward to his second coming. At Christmas we celebrate the coming of a savior, Jesus Christ. Jesus, the Son of God, came the first time fully God and fully man. He came to earth as a baby, He lived a perfect life and then gave his life for the sin of the world. Jesus was punished by God the Father and died, so that sinners like you and me could be forgiven of our sins. Three days after he was killed for the sin of the world, Jesus came back to life, defeating death. After this resurrection he ascend- ed into heaven from where he will come again to rescue his church. If you believe in Jesus, you will be saved by him, your sins will be forgiven, and you have the promise to reign with him forever in his eternal kingdom.
In the Advent we commemorate the longing that a world which was lost in sin had for the Savior’s first coming. For centuries people looked forward to the day when the Messiah would come to bring salvation. When Jesus came the first time, he came as a suffering servant, but when he comes again he will come as a reigning king. As a Christian I cannot wait for Jesus to come back and so in the season when we celebrate his first coming, Advent is a great opportunity for the church to look forward to his second coming.
While there are no set scriptures in an Advent service, there are typically many scriptures read, following the story of Christmas from prophecy to the account of the birth of Christ. In every Advent service, however, it is customary to light candles. These candles remind the church that the light of the world has come into the world to overcome the darkness of sin and to bring salvation to all who believe in Jesus. So this Advent season in your church remember that the light has come and that he is our only hope, but also remember that Jesus, the light, is coming again to save the church, to settle all accounts, and to make all things new. Come Lord Jesus, come!