Keys to Christmas
Updated: Apr 25, 2019
I cannot believe that the season of Advent is so quickly upon us. One major snow and ice storm behind us and here we are!
The season of waiting and anticipation officially began on December 2, but the “signs: of what is coming have been with us for some time in the appearance of the “holiday season” in department stores as early as October. But then again, that really doesn’t have anything to do with Advent does it?
For sure, the appearance of department store displays,ads on television, the bombardment of unsolicited emails, and text notifications, all announcing the start of the “holiday season” cause a lot of excitement. Even before the days of the Internet, marketers had tapped into our “consumeristic” tendencies, and had hijacked Christmas by turning it into something that it was never intended to be, leaving Advent in the dust!
The secularization of Christmas, and the loss of Advent, has been felt by all of us. In my own case, although we were taught that Christmas marked the birth of Jesus, the real excitement wasn’t over a day that changed world history, but over the presents we would find under the tree which bore his name. And so it was for the first twenty-five years of my life.
That all changed in the fall of 1983, when I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior. Many things were going on in my life which led up to that event, but one of the things God used to get my attention was the fact that Ann and I were expecting our first child, our son Matthew. God used this time mightily in teaching me that life was really not about me, others were depending on me, and that I had to depend on Jesus Christ for everything, most importantly the salvation of my soul.
It was that year that I realized what Advent was about. It was about waiting in anticipation of a “birthday celebration.” The day of celebration came for Ann and me on December 24, 1983. A day on which we doubly celebrated the birth of Christ, and the birth of our son, Matthew David. There was a lot going on that Christmas!
But that’s only half of the story behind Advent!
We can become so focused on the excitement that builds toward the celebration of Christ’s first coming, with presents, cookies, parties, Hallmark movies, etc., as well as birthday celebrations, that we forget the“Advent” is not over. If we aren’t careful, we can quickly lose sight of the fact that Jesus is coming again!
One of my favorite Advent hymns is “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” which goes “O come, O come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel, that mourns in lowly exile here until the Son of God appears. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.”
Israel waited for the Messiah, the Son of God, Emmanuel to come and rescue them from bondage and exile. They sought restoration. Jesus came, and many believed, both Jew and Gentile, in forming the church, the promised offspring of Abraham.
It is the church, those who place their full trust in Jesus Christ, that remains in exile today. We are struck by the oddness, and the sadness, of a world that is blind to the true meaning of Advent and Christmas. And it is the church which now lives as light in a dark world, waiting and anticipating, the second Advent of Christ—his return in glory.
This December, we are going to blow the dust off of Advent and Christmas by exploring what the season truly means through “The Keys to Christmas.” It is my prayer that you come and rejoice in all that is to be anticipated in Christ’s coming, in his birth and his coming again.
Blessings to you all, Pastor Dave