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10 Ways Advent Helps Us Understand the True Meaning of Christmas

  • Meg Bucher Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
10 Ways Advent Helps Us Understand the True Meaning of Christmas

“Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” Luke 2:11

Advent is latin for “coming.” It’s a season of preparation, where we are reminded of the first coming of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, and encouraged by the anticipation of His coming again. Advent helps us cut through the holiday clutter to keep the reason for the season top of mind.

Though Advent calendars as we know them have been around since the 19th century, there are now multiple versions of the traditional countdown to Christmas. We have multiple Advent traditions in my home to remain hyper-focused on preparing our hearts during the Advent season. It reminds us of Who came to earth on Christmas and what that means for us.

Here are 10 ways observing Advent helps us to better understand the true meaning of Christmas:

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  • 1. It makes us pause.

    1. It makes us pause.

    Slide 1 of 10

    “Mary treasured up all these things and pondered the in her heart.” Luke 2:19

    In an article called, “What is Advent?” Justin Holcomb wrote, “It is only in the shadow of Advent that the miracle of Christmas can be fully understood and appreciated …The promise for Israel and the promise for the church is Jesus Christ; he has come, and he will come again.”

    Through her Bible study, “Breathe,” Pricilla Shirer explains how purposefully God created the Sabbath, a margin we need in order to remember His sovereignty. Pausing to prepare our hearts during Advent makes us grateful and ready to worship Jesus. We must never forget the important choice He made for us. Advent reminds us to think daily about Who He is and what His birth meant to humanity. When we take that margin, worship will flow from our grateful hearts.

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  • 1. It makes us pause.

    2. It keeps us focused.

    Slide 2 of 10

    “He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth.” Luke 1:14-17

    The above verse speaks of John the Baptist and reminds us of the culminating preparation that preceded Christ’s birth on earth. Advent keeps us focused on why we are celebrating the season. Just as He created rest on the seventh day, He brings Christ’s birth to the forefront of our minds each year. As we start making resolutions for the next year, He begs us to stop and remember what’s most important – Jesus. Without Him, we will endlessly strive yet never be satisfied. He should be at the center of our goals and aspirations.

    “The season of Advent is marked by themes of self-reflection, anticipation, hope, and, ultimately, joyful celebration of the Saviors coming.” Scott James

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  • 1. It makes us pause.

    3. It moves our faith forward.

    Slide 3 of 10

    “And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.” Luke 2:8-9

    We all have our favorite part of the Christmas story, but Advent begs us not to forget the minute details.

    For instance, the angels appeared to shepherds the night Christ was born. Shepards smelled like their sheep! They were not the most glamorous in society, yet the angels sang to them of the Savior being born. It’s common to remember the manger scene, but do we know about the crucial conversation three kings had with Herod, and the alternate route they took home to protect the Savior King as a result.

    Searching for details to the story moves our faith forward. The living, breathing, and active word of God begs us to be convicted by every detail.

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  • 1. It makes us pause.

    4. It makes us remember.

    Slide 4 of 10

    “He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.” Luke 1:54-55

    Christmas memories bring a mix of joy and sorrow. As we sift through scenes of Christmas’ past, we see living proof of God’s love in our lives. We can trace the tracks of the people He placed as extensions of His love. We are God’s people, whom He is merciful towards forever, as the above verse in Luke mentions. Meditating on the rich history of the nativity scene creates a feeling of connectedness to all those who have gone before us, anticipating the Messiah’s first, and now second coming.

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  • 1. It makes us pause.

    5. It creates tradition.

    Slide 5 of 10

    “And Mary said, ‘My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me - holy is his name.” Luke 1:46-49

    Mary was touched God saw and remembered her, and now we prayerfully recall her note of thanksgiving and promise in the verses above. The traditions we choose to pass on say quite a bit about our faith. Cookie exchanges, ugly sweater parties, family drives to look at Christmas lights, and other traditional gatherings bring us together. The opportunities to love people abound in the Advent season. Advent challenges us to remember each other. As we prepare our hearts to welcome the Savior, it reminds us to reach out to the lonely and make memorable traditions that spread God’s love.

    Photo Credit: Pexels-Alljos

  • 1. It makes us pause.

    6. It puts us in His presence.

    Slide 6 of 10

    “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come to his people and redeemed them.” Luke 1:68

    “Glorious,” sung by For King and Country, puts me smack in the middle of God’s presence during Advent. “Glorious is God with us,” the song plays. Immanuel, God with us, is the pinnacle of our Advent preparation. The chorus sings, “He is the chorus to every song that we were born to sing. He is the rhythm of your heart so let the beat begin.” Whether in corporate worship or driving down the road, sing out! Take in a winter sunrise or sunset. Stand amidst a snowfall or go zipping down a snow-covered hill in a sled! Marvel in what He has created for us to witness and experience.

    Worship doesn’t have to be singing Christmas carols. It’s creating space to stop and sit with Him, marvel at Him, and allow Him to replenish our thirsty souls. No matter what our soundtrack or background, “Can you believe it?” can be proclaimed!

    Photo Credit: Unsplash/David-Beale

  • 1. It makes us pause.

    7. It teaches us about Him.

    Slide 7 of 10

    “After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, ‘Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.’” Matthew 2:1-2

    The three kings were educated men that made a point to follow a star they knew meant much more than all the others. Advent devotionals educate our walk through the Scriptures of the Advent season. Each day, God’s Word has the capacity to reveal a new bit about Him we didn’t know before. Underline words that are repeated and look deeper into the meaning of everyday words in light of the Advent season. Words like noel, joy, merry, and Immanuel. Peering further into the meaning of them enlightens our hearts. Look at familiar pieces of Scripture in other translations and paraphrases to see them in a new light.

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  • 1. It makes us pause.

    8. It convicts us to change.

    Slide 8 of 10

    “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.” Luke 1:30

    Noah and Moses also found favor with God. (Genesis 6:8; Exodus 33:12) Favor, in the original Greek text, means grace. (Strong’s 5485) The Advent season begs us to meet God in the pages of Scripture with the intent of growing in grace. Christmas is about new birth, celebration, hope, and miracles. Grace, granted to us by Jesus’ death on the cross, allows us stand in God’s presence a new creation. Growing closer to Him during the Advent season convicts us to desire a heart like His.

    Photo Credit: Unsplash/Rawpixel

  • 1. It makes us pause.

    9. It reminds us Whose we are.

    Slide 9 of 10

    “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light.” Isaiah 9:2a

    We are God’s holy people, set a part and loved so completely and sacrificially that He gave His only Son for our souls. In exchange for the restoration Christ offers us through salvation, we spend eternity with our Heavenly Father. Resetting to that perspective is important. Embracing that truth is crucial to our spiritual growth. Advent is attacked with over-doing, but it’s what He did that matters most. Christ is the greatest gift. Remembering we are His and resetting our perspective during Advent helps us relax into our purpose, renew our strength, and increase our ability to trust Him.

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  • 1. It makes us pause.

    10. It ushers in hope.

    Slide 10 of 10

    “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’ (which means ‘God with us’)” Matthew 1:22-23

    Many memes about saying goodbye to a year filled with trials fill social media in this season. The pain in and of this world is undeniable. Advent reminds us God is in control.

    Hundreds of years spanned the Old Testament prophesies of Jesus’ birth with the New Testament occurrence of His entrance into this world. For centuries, people struggled to see the big picture, but God had a plan. We struggle to see the big picture through our pain and need Advent to re-focus on the gift of hope Jesus is to us. God’s plan is unfolding, and Christ will return. Just as sure as He was born in the manger to fulfill prophesy, so He will return and restore the earth. Advent tunes our hearts to Hope.

    For more verses on Advent, click here.

    Meg writes about everyday life within the love of Christ on her blog, https://sunnyand80.org. She is a stay-at-home mom, freelance writer, blogger, and author of “Friends with Everyone …Friendship Within the Love of Christ.” She resides in Northern Ohio with her husband of eleven years, two daughters, and their Golden-doodle.

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