My particular church does not observe Advent. However, growing up, my family had an advent wreath, and every Sunday of Advent leading up to Christmas, my family and I would sit around the table at night and my dad would read Bible readings lighting one more candle every week. This focused our hearts in anticipation on the coming Messiah instead of anticipation of getting many toys that, to be honest, I don’t even remember ever owning now. This developed in me an understanding of the centrality of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, in the story of Scripture and the history of humanity. These verses remind me of two things:
1) We remember the longing of the Israelites for the Messiah. There was a time before Jesus had come to earth. We can put ourselves in the place of Israel and think on what it would be like anticipating the coming of the Messiah who would bring peace. We are celebrating the coming of Christ, so it makes sense to do this in the weeks leading up to Christmas Day.
2) We are reminded of our own need for a Messiah. We can also believe that Jesus is coming again because He came the first time as God had promised. Advent reminds us that Christ is coming again, and we are waiting for the final restoration. This is also a reminder to not grow weary in doing good, but joyfully anticipate the coming of Jesus in the way we live.
These are the Advent reading for the first Sunday of Advent:
The word that Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. In days to come the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised above the hills; all the nations shall stream to it. Many peoples shall come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the LORD!
I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD!”
Our feet are standing within your gates, O Jerusalem.
Jerusalem built as a city that is bound firmly together.
To it the tribes go up, the tribes of the LORD, as was decreed for Israel, to give thanks to the name of the LORD.
For there the thrones for judgment were set up, the thrones of the house of David.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May they prosper who love you.
Peace be within your walls, and security within your towers.”
For the sake of my relatives and friends I will say, “Peace be within you.”
For the sake of the house of the LORD our God, I will seek your good.
Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.
“But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left. Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.