For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation for all people. And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed.
Titus 2:11-13 (NLT)
The Advent season is a time for remembering and rejoicing, watching and waiting. Beginning four Sundays prior to Christmas and ending on Christmas Eve, Advent helps us prepare for the coming, or “advent” of the Christ child at Christmas.
Advent is an important time in the life of the church. Instead of being increasingly busy, frenzied, and cluttered like the world around us, it’s an opportunity for believers to remember God’s promise to send a Savior who would overcome sin and death forever. He kept that promise in Jesus Christ, and He will do it again. That is what we are hoping for, longing for, and are now waiting patiently, but expectantly, for.
The King is coming. Jesus Christ has come, bringing grace and salvation, and He will come again, revealing glory and new creation. Jesus’ coming again is the eager expectation and desire of His redeemed people. This is the theme of “Advent,” formed from a Latin word meaning “coming” or “arrival.” It’s the historic celebration of the first advent of Jesus, as He came in humility. It’s also the celebration that builds the hopeful anticipation of His second advent in glory.
For hundreds of years, Christians have used an Advent wreath as a visual example of a symbol that is borrowed from the emphasis throughout Scripture of Jesus Christ being the Light of the World (Matt. 4:16; John 1:4-9; 8:12). Each week a new candle is lit , building up anticipation for Christmas Eve. The last candle, called the Christ Candle, is lit on Christmas Eve to represent Jesus’ first advent. Through this theme of everincreasing light breaking into the darkness, we see a visual picture of the gospel. We are reminded about the meaning of Christ’s birth and become more excited about his coming in the past, in the future, and in the present, through each of our lives.
Using the Guide
This guide contains four weeks of devotional material, Each week begins with a scripture reading that tells part of the Advent story, as well as some thoughts to help you engage with that story. Afterward there are some questions and suggestions to help you reflect and respond further. There are also some scripture references for further reading for those of you who would like to go a little deeper. Each week is finished with an Advent Hymn, you’ll probably find these songs familiar, but we hope they will have increased meaning to you in this season of reflection. Any part of the guide can also be used to spark discussions with your friends, family, or other community.
The Advent study journeys through the narrative of Jesus’ birth. It begins in the Garden with God’s promise of a Savior and ends with an eager anticipation of Jesus’ promised return. In the middle, God shows His unmistakable faithfulness in sending the promised Rescuer. We see His love for the lowly and outcast as He proclaims the news of His Son to the shepherds. We marvel at His heart to see all nations come and worship His Son through Simeon’s moment of consolation.
Even if you know the Advent story well, don’t rush past what God has for you in this season. For many, this may be the first time to consider all that God is saying through the birth of His Son. For others, it will be an opportunity to rediscover the way God intimately works in the details of life for His glory and the good of man. For all of us, may this season be one marked by hope, expectation, remembrance and worship. The King has come and is coming! There is much to celebrate.
A Note for Families
Advent is an opportunity to pause and reflect on the birth of Jesus. But especially for families, this time of year can be filled to the brim with activities and obligations. Before the calendar begins to overflow, set aside time to consider what you want this season to be for your family. Then make a plan so that a time intended to remember and celebrate Jesus doesn’t get swallowed up by less important things.