The word advent simply means arrival. During the four weeks leading up to Christmas Day, the church celebrates the birth, or the arrival, of Jesus Christ. We purposefully slow down during this hectic season to remember and celebrate the miracle of miracles – that the eternal Son of God took on human flesh for the salvation of his people!
Advent both looks back and looks forward. We look back and remember Jesus’ first coming. As we do, we are encouraged to see God’s faithfulness to his people, as he brings his word to pass and fulfills his promises. But during Advent, we also look forward and anticipate Jesus’ second coming. As we do so, we are comforted that God’s faithfulness is not finished. There is a great day coming when the final fulfillment of God’s promises will break forth, and all will be right. On that day, the One who came first as a helpless child will return as our Mighty King. All heaven and earth will rejoice on that day when our Christ returns to gather his people to himself.
This year for Advent, we will spend our time in the first two chapters of the Gospel of Matthew. In this masterful narrative, Matthew presents Jesus as the long-awaited Messiah and King in David’s line. The account opens with an important genealogy that establishes Jesus’ rightful claim to Israel’s throne. Matthew then proceeds to offer five Scriptural proofs that establish Jesus as the Messiah. By the end of chapter 2, Matthew’s message is both clear and compelling – this Jesus, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of Mary, is the Christ and the King of Israel.
Here is a snapshot of the Advent series to aid you as you prepare:
November 27: "The Lineage of Israel's King" from Matthew 1:1-17
December 4: "God with Us to Save Us" from Matthew 1:18-25
December 11: "Who is the True King?" from Matthew 2:1-12
December 18: "A Greater Exodus for God's People" from Matthew 2:13-25
Also this year, we will celebrate a Christmas Eve service together for the first time. This short, family-oriented service is something we’ve wanted to do for a number of years, and in God’s kindness, we have the ability to do so now. We will gather together (4:00pm) with all of our children for a time of singing, hearing God’s Word read, and listening to a brief devotional also from the Gospel of Matthew. It promises to be a wonderful time together, and we hope to see you there.
Finally, this year Christmas Day falls on a Sunday, which is a unique privilege for us as the church. What a blessing to celebrate Christ’s birth on the Lord’s Day! We are already looking forward to that morning. We will have our normal worship gathering with a message from John 1:14.
I pray there is a sense of anticipation and expectancy as we move into Advent. I know I am greatly looking forward to this focused time of reflection on Christ and his first coming. May God the Father stir up our hearts with greater love for Christ and increasing trust in our faithful God!