What's the deal with Advent?

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Advent is a funny word. If we grow up in the church, we see it a lot and we know when it comes. It’s the thing right before Christmas, the church season now identified with blue and the wreath at the front near the altar.

The word comes from a Latin phrase- “ad venit”. This means “he comes to”. When we think about who might be coming to us during this time, we can look at it in two ways.

Not only does God the Father come to us through the birth of His Son, the Christ child, but we can approach God through and because of Christ, and the vicarious sacrifice we know Christ provided for us on the cross.

Advent is a time of thoughtful reflection as we eagerly anticipate the Messiah, and as we humbly reflect on these circumstances, we ponder why we need one.

Our Advent services at St. John reflect this humble and reverent awe. We do know Christmas is coming, the birth of our Lord. Even as we await this annual and joyous day, we also await Christ’s return, foretold even as His birth was foretold by the prophets.

At St. John, we plan three student-led worship services. These are not Christmas programs, where attendees come to simply hear music or enjoy skits, but dedicated time for us to hear the Word of God read and respond with praise for the gift of His Son that we anxiously expect.

We remember that, no matter who leads the worship service, if we gather in the name of Christ to worship Him He promises to be there also. Because of this, our joy and behavior are respectful.

We must also remember that this is a time of the year when we welcome and expect many new visitors and friends among those whom we are used to seeing around our halls and in worship. We must seek to invite and include others in the joy we experience and prepare to serve as resources to welcome them into the heart of our congregation, even as we welcome Christ into our hearts and homes.

Preparing our hearts in Advent, we can also be encouraged that the Gospel is found on every page of the Bible (yes, even the Old Testament), and the prophets cannot help but call out the deep love God shows for His people in calling them to repentance and telling of His plan to save them, even right after the Fall into sin in the Garden of Eden.

Isaiah 65:17

“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind.”

(Jesus is the ultimate sacrifice and covers over all of our sin so well that for His sake, God does not see our sin. It is as though we have never done it! Praise be to God for His great gift.)

Joel 3:18

“And in that day the mountains shall drip sweet wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the streambeds of Judah shall flow with water; and a fountain shall come forth from the house of the Lord and water the Valley of Shittim.”

(Jesus is that fountain from the house of the Lord, and we drink from it in the waters of Holy Baptism, through which we are counted as God’s children and given new life in this life as Christians and life in the new heavens and the new earth with God when these have passed. Thanks be to God for such promises kept!)

To keep up with our Advent service schedule, please click this link to view our Advent events on the church calendar.

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