What is Advent? Seriously, take a minute and try and define it in your head. What did you come up with? It’s a big event on the church calendar, but the meaning can often elude us. We talked about the deeper meaning of Advent in our Young Adult gathering last night. We started with the following video.
“Advent” is a Latin word, made popular in 490 AD. It means, “coming,” as in the coming birth of Jesus. Each time this year we hear the stories from Matthew and Luke about the birth of baby Jesus. They make us feel warm and fuzzy about this innocent child being born into the world. But Advent is more; it is actually 3 distinct “comings.”
The first is the Jesus’ birth, the usual celebration this time of year. Now that is a big deal all by itself. The fact that God came into the world as a baby is important. But, if we stop there, we miss the bigger picture of Advent. The second coming is Jesus’ presence in the world. This gives us a sense joy. We can see that world will finally begin to be set right. No longer is God far off, like we feel in the Old Testament, but right here with us. Advent reminds us that Jesus comes into the day to day to commune, to live life, with us. The final part of Advent is that Jesus is coming back one day. It is what we call the second coming. This is about hope. We are reminded that the world and our lives will not spin deeper and deeper in to brokenness and sin and ultimately destroy itself. We are reminded that Jesus will come again and will rescue those who have put their faith in Him. The hope, is that the world and our lives will be made right again.
So, when you think about Advent, remember it is about the coming of Jesus; past, present, and future.
I heard it said that finding happiness is about grasping what will last, and letting go of what is fleeting. That reminds me of the star that the Wise Men see in the East [see Matthew 2:1-6]. They were used to traveling by following the stars, because they did not move. There were not accurate maps. The maps they had would change and shift based on discoveries. The stars, however, were consistent. As we think about our lives, we see that the “stars” that have taught, guided, and led us over the years. What or who has been your guide over your lifetime?
Young adulthood is about striking out on your own. In many ways, you are like the wise men who leave behind their kingdoms in search of God. So what are the stars you are following now? Does it have to do with a vision for a career, family pressure, or a relationship? Where do you see that star leading you? Is it fleeting, or does it seem lasting?
When we look at the night sky, we are overwhelmed by how many stars are present. It can be hard to find the one “right one.” The fear is that if we get the wrong star, we might end up outside God’s will. Or, like Joseph in the above video, get “unfriended.” More and more, I have come to see that God gives us choices. If the next step was always obvious, we would have no need for God. So, in the midst of the big decisions we have as young adults, we can find peace. The peace comes knowing that God has called us to follow Him. As we journey, we pray, seek the advice of others, and listen. If we end up on the wrong path, God will correct it. Advent reminds us that God has been present in our lives, that He will watch over the future, and especially that Jesus is with us today.
Let Advent be a time for you to follow the stars in your life. Let them lead you to Jesus, to the plans and opportunities He has for you. And relax, He is guiding you, even if it does not always feel like it.
Feel free to use the comment section to post any comments, thoughts, or disagreements you have.