What is Advent, and Why Should We Celebrate It?

December 8, 2016

There is something really wonderful about the word, advent. We know this word from other contexts besides religion. We say things like, “Since the advent of the automobile…” Or “Since the advent of the modern era…”

Advent signals something new is coming. The dawn of a new and better era. This is really what Christmas is about, isn’t it? It’s the celebration of the coming of a new era. God broke into time and space and entered our world. He is Immanuel, God with us. He broke in the midst of the sin and clamor and the fallenness. He came as a vulnerable baby in a poverty-stricken town to ordinary people, in a time of great political unrest. Advent–Christ’s Advent–means that God sees us in our distress, in our sin-ravaged condition, in all of our helplessness.

We’d like to think we can save ourselves from ourselves. We’d like to think with a few tweaks here and there, we can create the Heaven we long for. We’d like to think with a bit more progress and education we can overcome evil. But alas, we know we cannot. Tragic news stories in 2016 remind us that evil invades even the safest, most beautiful environments on this earth. But the hope of Christmas tells us that Christ invades even the most evil, sin ravaged places on this earth.

The first Advent is worth celebrating with great joy because it tells us a new day is here. Christmas is the dawn of something to come. It fills us with hope that the endless cycle of sin, violence and hopelessness of human history will someday be reversed. The curse that was put on mankind, on the universe, is not forever. God broke in as man and God. By his life, death and resurrection, he defeated sin and death. As hymn writer Isaac Watts wrote:

No more let sins and sorrows grow,

Nor thorns infest the ground;

He comes to make His blessings flow

Far as the curse is found,

Far as the curse is found,

Far as, far as, the curse is found.

We should celebrate Christmas joyfully with gifts, with food, with singing and with festive decorations because Jesus has come. God is with us. And the First Advent signals a second advent, a coming of a King whose Kingdom will end all other kingdoms and whose rule will create the world we all long for but can’t create. His glory will spread through the earth and sin, sickness and death will be no more. The enemy will be forever silenced.

So, celebrate Christmas, not as a scrooge, not as a scold, but with overflowing joy. Because the Lord has come.