by: Mark Zier
Advent! Does that word have any meaning for you? Perhaps if you grew up in a church that observed this season, it does, but the word may not have much meaning otherwise. You may know that it means "coming", as in, the advent of a new leader comes with the inauguration of a president. But what does the word mean for those of us who believe in and follow Jesus?
Of course, Christmas is the celebration of Jesus' birth, His coming into the world, so Advent is a time of preparing for that celebration. You've already seen plenty of ads that want to "help you" be prepared with your gifts. Maybe you're also receiving solicitations to give to charities in the spirit of Christmas and end of year tax deductions. (Yes, there's a GIVE button on this site too, but that's not my purpose in writing.) These aren't wrong but just not complete in how we prepare.
Advent is also a time for preparing our hearts for the Word that comes to us in Christ. Yes, we will celebrate the fact that this Word became flesh and was born in Bethlehem, but we also celebrate how this Word comes into our hearts as we hear it proclaimed to us and it creates and nurtures faith within us. That's something worth preparing for.
So, during this season of Advent I invite you to let God's Word prepare you for what he has next for you. His Word offers us forgiveness, peace and joy, and also calls us to be honest about the things in our lives that rob us of those things and leave us feeling guilty and ashamed. "For the Scripture says, 'Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.'” Romans 10:11
I pray that this year, perhaps for the first time for you, Advent will mean more than buying gifts and decorating your home. Those can be fun and worthwhile, but I hope you'll also focus on the internal preparation of your heart.
Happy Advent, Pastor Mark