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The churches I grew up in did not celebrate Advent. They left that to the “liberals,” who celebrated a lot of things on the church calendar. It wasn’t until recent years that I have learned to appreciate it. I’m glad that now most churches celebrate this series of pre-Christmas Sundays. It’s a special time of anticipating the coming of the Savior to this earth. But it’s even more than that.

I decided to do a little research on the history of Advent. It symbolizes how the church waits for the return of Christ in glory to establish his eternal kingdom. The church is in a similar situation to Israel at the end of the Old Testament: in exile, waiting and hoping in prayerful expectation for the coming of the Messiah. Just as Israel looked back to God’s gracious actions in leading them out of Egypt in the Exodus, we remember God’s provision of a Savior, a Deliverer, and cry out for God to once again deliver us. We look forward in eager anticipation to the coming of Christ’s kingdom when he returns for his people.

 With this in mind, the Advent hymn “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” perfectly fits this season.

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appears.
Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

So have you learned to remember and anticipate at the same time? Words can’t express how important that first coming of Jesus was. Because He was Emmanuel, God with Us, He revealed God to humankind. Because He was the perfect, sinless Lamb of God, He atoned for our sins and provided the connection to God that we need.

Because He promised to return, we look forward to that joyous occasion with hope and certainty.

December is here. How is your celebration going?


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