By: Mike Kelly
Have you noticed some extra candles at your church altar lately? Or maybe, your church is not into candles.
In any event, the season called “Advent” has arrived. The 4 candles represent the 3 Sundays before Christmas and Christmas Sunday. (Normally, Advent is 4 Sundays long but this year Christmas is on a Sunday itself.)
Advent? What does it mean? The Latin word means “coming” or “to come”. As Christians, we celebrate the coming of the Lord to earth as an infant on Christmas Day.
However, there is more to it than that. Advent also celebrates the Coming of the Lord in his Glory on His return in the air above earth to claim the saints and take them back to heaven with him.
We call this the Rapture of the Saints and the beginning of the Tribulation on earth. Since Christ arrives in the air and leaves in the air, he actually doesn’t come down to earth in this intermediate coming.
There will be a second coming. In Christ’s Second Coming He will be accompanied by His angel armies and the resurrected Saints.
This coming and the war that follows (Armeggedon) will be the beginning of the end of the world and the defeat of Satan.
Each of the 4 Sundays in Advent have a theme: hope, peace, joy and love.
Hope: The first week of Advent often focuses on hope. Our focus is on the soon coming Baby who is actually the Messiah or the Redeemer of mankind.
Biblical hope is not about optimism which is choosing to see positive outcomes in any situation. But Biblical hope is different from optimism. Biblical hope isn’t looking at the circumstances, it’s looking at the coming Redeemer.
In fact, hopeful people in the Bible often recognize there’s no evidence things will get better but choose hope anyway.
Peace: The second week of Advent centers around peace. In today’s world and in our hectic lives, peace seems to be a rare commodity. The word peace is common in most languages.
People can talk about peace treaties or times of peace; it frequently means the absence of war or conflict among individuals.
In the Bible, the word peace has to do with the knowing that our Redeemer lives and has come for us. It also translates into the peace the world needs. There is no peace possible that does not center on Jesus.
Joy: It’s an attitude God’s people choose, not because everything is rosy and upbeat but because of their hope in God’s love and promise. Christ’s first coming was announced as “good news that brings great joy.” Joy represents the rejoicing in the arrival of Jesus.
It is his coming that allows us to live joy filled lives in this dark world that often seems harsher and more dangerous than it should be.
Love: The fourth week of Advent often emphasizes the love found in Christ. His love symbolizes God’s love for us as shown by the incarnation of God in human form.
The earliest followers of Jesus didn’t learn the meaning of agape by looking it up. Rather, they looked to his life to define their very concept of love.
As for the “other “comings, as Believers, we are excited about Christ’s coming in the air for the living saints. That will be the beginning of the end of this world and all its brokenness.
And in his Second Coming, we look forward to being part of the wedding party of the Lamb who tag along to see the Holy Spirit destroy the forces of evil.
Advent is all about Jesus and his coming. Don’t get so preoccupied with buying just the right gift and decorating the house and making cookies to miss the real reason for the season…the coming of Jesus the Christ.
Mike Kelly is the founding pastor of Bryan’s Grace Community Church (retired) and Board Chairman of Bryan’s Sanctuary Homeless Shelter and Williams County’s Compassion (free) Medical Clinic.