Megan Chalmers
The Significance of Advent | Advent Part 2

During the Advent season, I have complied a few thoughts about this time of year, hoping to provoke some helpful prayer and reflection time during this fundamental part of the Christmas season.

As I mentioned in my previous post (check it out here) advent allows us to focus on God’s plans for the world and how he freed us from death through the sacrifice of his son Jesus. It allows us to reign in our busy lives in order to fix our gaze on Him. But let’s unpack some of the things God may remind us of in this busy time…

1. The Lead up to the Birth of Christ

As Christians, Christmas is a time to think reverently about the significance of the festive period. I for one, find it quite difficult to do just that without being reminded about why God sent his son to Earth.

Most of us know the classic memory verse: John 3:16-17

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”

God didn’t choose to change the world in an instant but chose to humble himself and come to Earth as a child and it is so important to think about this amazing act of love from Our Father. Not only did he humble himself but he sacrificed his Son to give people the chance of being saved through him.

Advent allows us to focus every day on a little part of the nativity story, reminding ourselves of why we love celebrating this time of year and the miraculous events and beauty of the Nativity. Dig a little deeper into the story of the nativity, visualise it and imagine how each person may be feeling and how God shows himself through the seemingly ordinary people in the story. This is something that would be great to unpack within a family- it's a very special story that children of all ages can enjoy and help them to focus on why Christmas is so special too. 

Mary and Joseph and Jesus 

2. The Sacrifice:

As well as reminding ourselves about the amazing Nativity story, we can also remember why Jesus came and the sacrifice God gave. It is very sobering to remember God’s sacrifice of his Son and the price he paid to save humanity and therefore the significance of the birth of Christ as our Saviour. The fact that we now are free and can have a relationship with God because of the price Jesus paid on the cross is something worth celebrating and so is his birth.

Advent signifies hope, which is one of the reasons why we use an advent candle, to represent the hope that Jesus brought to all the earth. When Jesus rose again after three days in the tomb, it signified such hope that came out of an impossible situation. This amazing miracle is something that as Christians we can hold onto even to day: that even when things seem dark and impossible, God is mighty and will bring hope!
We get to celebrate the hope we have in Christ, looking to his second coming with expectancy and hope that we will one day be reconciled to God. This hope is a theme that always runs throughout the Christmas season, as we look to God for our salvation and our hope. Advent is an opportunity to remind ourselves of the Hope God has given us, no matter what the perspective we come from, that we are saved through God’s son Jesus.

3. Remembering God’s Promises

Advent also reminds us of the promises that were fulfilled when Jesus came to the earth and of the promises that God has over our lives too. There were many promises that God spoke before Jesus was born in the Old Testament such as Isaiah 7:14:

"Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”

What an amazing promise that was made! Immanuel means ‘God With Us’, reminding us of the humility of Jesus, coming to Earth as a man to be amongst his people. It also reminds us of the fact that during the Advent season God is with us, through his Holy Spirit! This alone gives us so much to celebrate and think about during this advent season. Through Jesus' coming to earth, we are given the chance to be saved.

4. The Bigger Picture and The Second Coming

I often forget the bigger picture when it comes to my walk with God, looking only at the next few years that I am on earth, but actually God’s purposes for us are much bigger than that!

It is so easy to limit our life as Christians to the number of years we get on earth but God calls us to look at the bigger picture as we join him in Glory and when He comes again!

The word advent stems from the Greek word parousia, commonly used to refer to the Second Coming of Christ so it is key that we focus our attention onto God’s bigger plan and the fact that when he comes he will be revealed to us in all his fullness and glory and we will get to spend eternity worshiping him! This is something that we can dwell on and think about together as we wait expectantly for when Jesus comes again.

1 Corinthians 4:5 says “Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men's hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God.”

As this verse says, as we wait expectantly for a new season when Jesus comes again we can begin to reflect on our own motives attitudes and perhaps assure they are rooted in the hope of when Jesus comes again. God calls us holy and pure, we are made clean in him but I think that advent provides us with a time to focus on preparing our hearts as we enter a new chapter in our lives. Perhaps setting expectant goals of what you want to see Jesus do. 

Overall, advent is such a significant time and one to certainly be remembered through many ways. Whether it be conversation, practical activities or prayer- let's all fix our eyes on Jesus and remind ourselves of why he is in the centre of this busy yet beautiful time of year!