I must confess. I don’t like Christmas as much as I used to.
As a kid, I loved it. I longed for the day I could finally dive under the tree and begin ripping open my presents. As Christmas got closer and closer, the longing to tear into those presents would grow stronger and stronger.
But as an adult, I don’t like Christmas as much as I used to.
Maybe I’m a cynic, a hardened, pessimistic Scrooge. But I just don’t like what Christmas has become. It’s hard for me to separate all the consumerism from the Gift that God gave us in the Son. It’s hard for me to make sense of the connection between the Gift and the gifts we now give each other. And it’s hard for me to find anything positive in the pile of debt people accumulate as they try to outdo last year’s pile of toys for their children … and themselves.
As I get older, I just don’t like Christmas as much as I used to.
But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve really come to enjoy Advent.
We never celebrated Advent when I was kid. Up until several years ago, I really had no idea what Advent was.
The word advent is derived from the Latin word adventus, meaning “coming,” which is a translation of the Greek word parousia. Some of you might be more familiar with the Greek term, but it’s the one Paul uses to refer to Christ’s Second Coming.
And so what is Advent? Advent simply refers to the Messiah’s coming, both His first coming as a child and His second coming as King. It’s the season of expectation and of longing for Savior. It’s not just a day we set aside to give praise for the birth of our Savior. It’s a season, where we also reflect upon our Savior’s second coming. It’s not just about His birth, but it’s also about His return. It’s a way of connecting His past work to His future work, when one day He will return and His glory will cover the entire earth.
Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand (James 5:7-8, ESV).
I’m not as big of a fan of Christmas as I used to be. Don’t get me wrong. It’s a good thing to reflect upon God’s gracious Gift to us in the Christ child. However, the birth of Christ was just the beginning of God’s incredible story of grace. Right now, you and I are smack dab in the middle of that continued story. We can look back and thank God for all that He’s done. But we must also look forward to all that He’s promised to do.
I don’t like Christmas as much as I used to, but I love Advent. And I hope that, if this is the first time you’re celebrating Advent, you’ll come to love it too.
One day, Jesus will return in all of His glory, and all of our longing … all of our hope will find its rest in Him.