I mentioned in The Awakening – Part 1 this idea of Advent. Many mainline denominational churches use it as a way to keep their eyes on the real meaning of Christmas…Jesus Christ the Messiah.
On my drive home today, I made a decision that this Christmas was going to be different for my family and I, no longer was I going to be trapped by the traditions and consumerism that come with this season, nor the religious fog that I have allowed Satan to creep into this holiday. So I thought I’d give this Advent thing a shot. So, for the next few weeks, as we count down the days to Christmas Day, I’ll be posting daily devotionals on various subjects surrounding the Christmas Story. Many of these will be devotionals that I will be doing with my own family each day, or using the topic itself to have a conversation as I drive my kids to and from daycare, and my family sits together to share a meal, I hope you will join us.
To prepare ourselves for these devotionals, I want to begin with what Advent is all about. Remember, the word Advent is Latin and means “The Coming of Promise.” It’s the anticipation and expectation of the promised one, Jesus our Savior.
As I was reading through the account of the birth of Christ, I was struck with a story that I think that we can gain a lot of insight into the posture of our hearts this season, as we do our own preparing, anticipating, and expectation of a fresh and new experience with Jesus this “Holy Day” season!
“When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”), and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”
Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:
“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you may now dismiss[d] your servant in peace.
For my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and the glory of your people Israel.”
The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”” – Luke 2:22-35
In this story, we find Simeon, who by this time has to be pretty old. We know that the Holy Spirit had told him that he would not die until he saw the Messiah. How long before this interaction did the Spirit tell him this, we don’t know…but from his exclamation and praise, we can guess that he had been waiting for a long time. God had made him a promise, and he was waiting in patient expectation of the fulfillment of this promise (James 5:7).
I was talking to a friend today and asked her what was the thing that she looked forward to the most this time of year, and she said it was the “anticipation of the big day.” The anticipation of the day that all her family would be gathered around their dining room table, laughing and talking and enjoying each others company. She is on the right track here, but we need to not just fix our eyes on the festivities of the holiday, but to the one who makes it possible. The celebration of the coming of our Savior, Jesus! (remember, The Awakening – Part 2!)
Simeon was overjoyed at the sight of this little baby, the salvation of all nations, and glory for Israel and a light to the Gentiles. My prayer is as we look into various aspects of the Christmas story, that our anticipation for the coming of Jesus (both his second and final coming, and his coming into this holiday season in a fresh way) builds to overflowing joy on the day, and we can exclaim, along with John and the heavenly hosts:
“The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life…He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.” – Revelation 22:17, 20
Come, Lord Jesus. Come!