O Come, O Come Emmanuel – What is Advent?

It’s Advent. What exactly is Advent? 

Advent is the anticipation of Christ’s coming, celebrated on December. 25th. Advent is traditionally the countdown to Christmas in mostly Protestant denominations of the Christian church.

The Advent season begins on the 4th Sunday before Christmas. It usually lands on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. In many churches, traditional purple cloths adorn the altar and Christmas decorations go up including the Advent Wreath. Each Sunday before Christmas, a candle is lit in the Advent Wreath — each candle represents hope, peace, joy and love. There are many Advent traditions.

The word advent means: The coming or arrival, especially of something extremely important. It’s roots: Middle English, the Advent season, from Old French, from Latin adventusarrival, from past participle of adven reto come to ad-, ad- + ven re,to come.

Growing up in the Catholic Church, the church didn’t have a Advent Wreath, but we always had an “Advent Calendar” at home which had 25 little doors with different pictures as we counted with anticipation to Christmas Day.

As a Catholic kid, I knew that on Christmas Day, Jesus, the Son of God was born in a stable because there was no room for them in the Inn. We put out the ceramic manger/nativity scene. I knew the story.

But why did Jesus leave his comfy home in Heaven to be born among the lowest of the lowly shepherds and be hailed by wise men as the King of Kings?

He came to save us from sin — the sin that started in the Garden of Eden when Eve disobeyed God’s order and then enticed Adam to do the same.

That was the “fall of man” that started the curse…

“Since you listened to your wife and ate from the tree
    whose fruit I commanded you not to eat,
the ground is cursed because of you.
    All your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it.
 It will grow thorns and thistles for you,
    though you will eat of its grains.
By the sweat of your brow
    will you have food to eat
until you return to the ground
    from which you were made.
For you were made from dust,
    and to dust you will return.”

Genesis 3:17-19

“Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay… We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us. We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it. But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.)”

Romans 8:19, 23-25

Christmas Carols

I wrote a series of articles examining the Christmas carols that we hear everywhere and delved into exactly what they mean. They are songs we learned as children. They are played and sung in stores and malls so that you will be in the “Christmas Spirit” and buy more. 

But they were written for a different reason. In olden times, the majority of the people were illiterate way before the bible was the best selling book and available in their spoken language. So pastors turned to both stained glass windows and songs/hymns to tell the bible stories.

Emmanuel = “God with us” 

“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”

(Isaiah 7:14) The Old Testament

“The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” —which means, “God with us.”

(Matthew 1:23) The New Testament – This is one of many biblical prophecies that have already come true.

For unto us a child is born,
unto us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father*, Prince of Peace. 

(Isaiah 9:6)
The London Symphony Orchestra performing Handel’s Messiah, “For Unto Us a Child is Born”

*An interesting note is that this is one of the only places in the Old Testament where God is referred to as “the Father”. It was not until Christ, His son was born and we became His children that He was call “Abba”, Father. We can call him “Daddy.” Everlasting Father. Usually in the Old Testament God was referred to as “The Lord.”

The Lord God, the Father, sent us His son, a savior, in a humble manger. He came to serve and save us from death not to condemn us.

The Hope of Christmas

Mary and Baby Jesus
Mary and Baby Jesus

That’s the hope we have that this world is not all there is. That’s the peace we get when we trust our lives to Jesus. And it’s the joy we have that God loved us so much that he sacrificed His only Son to save us from the wages of sin, which is death, and we are assured of eternal life in Heaven with Him.

What’s wonderful about the Advent season is the anticipation doesn’t end with Christmas.

We have the true hope in the promise that Jesus will come back for us and that this broken, fallen world is not all there is. We are anxiously waiting for Jesus’ return — first in the Rapture when He comes to retrieve believers — and then to establish His New World.

I recommend watching the movie, Left Behind.

It’s the story of what might happen to people who get “left behind” after the rapture of the Christians. It will make you stop and think, “Will I get left behind?” That’s what got me thinking. I “knew” about Jesus, but I didn’t know Jesus in my heart.

Without knowing Jesus in your heart, you won’t have the hope, peace and joy that only Jesus brings.

Every day when I watch or read the news, I can easily get depressed at all the evil, sin and destruction going on in the world. But then I remember, that this world is only temporary and that my home is in Heaven with Jesus. Jesus said…

“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. 2Remember what I told you: I am going away, but I will come back to you again.”

John 14:27-28

So, let’s take this Advent season and use it to either #ComeBackToGod or #GetToKnowGod. Follow me on Twitter or Instagram and look for those hashtags as well as #SeekTheTruth and #SeekJesus.

If you enjoyed my writing, you’ll love my first novel, Deo Volente (God Willing)! Get it on Amazon!

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