By Russ Ramsey
What is Christmas, if not a holiday built upon memory and anticipation?
Throughout the centuries, followers of Jesus Christ have taken time in the weeks leading up to Christmas day to observe a season of remembering and anticipating. We call this season Advent. The word “advent” is a Latin word that means “coming” or “arrival.”
During this season, Christians celebrate by remembering something that really happened—the first coming of Jesus Christ, born meek and lowly as a humble king wrapped in swaddling clothes, all those years ago in that manger in Bethlehem.
But it is also a time to anticipate something we’re still waiting for—Jesus’s glorious return as the mighty One of God with the words “KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS” lighting up His blazing robe and His thigh (Revelation 19:16).
The first advent has already happened; the second advent, His return, is something we still await. This means that we now live between two advents. The advent season invites us to anticipate this coming glory as we remember the greatest gift the world has received. So what, specifically, do we remember during Advent?
We remember the story of how, long before Jesus’s birth, God’s people ached for His arrival.
We remember that God promised to send a Savior, and we remember God provided Himself to fulfill that promise.
We remember the story of Jesus’s birth. We remember Mary’s courage, Joseph’s fear, and Herod’s bloodlust. We remember the angels telling the lowly shepherds that a Savior had been born and that they would find Him in a manger. We remember the learned men from the east laying their gifts at the feet of the boy-King.
We remember the unbreakable link between Christmas and Easter. We remember the reason for Jesus’s birth—how He took on flesh and blood in order that He might lay that life down in the place of the sinners He came to save. We remember how when He was raised from the grave on Easter morning, He defeated the power of sin and death.
This is what we remember during Advent. All of this is meant to stir in us a longing for His return. Come, Thou long-expected Jesus!