As Christmas gets closer and closer, the feelings of long loved traditions and the nostalgia begins to set in. I find myself caught in this tension of living in remembrance of what was, and living in hope of what is to come.

I grew up knowing the word Advent and that it was part of the Christmas season with calendars, candle lit wreaths, and rituals within the church. As a child, I’m certain my focus revolved around Santa and Christmas Day.  There was a countdown which usually involved an Advent calendar, and there was all of this build up and then – poof – the day comes and goes.  As an adult, I find myself looking forward (the adult language for counting down) to Christmas Eve because now that is my favorite part.  However, many of these traditions and rituals still revolve around events or things.  When a friend of mine mentioned Advent this year, I began to reflect on it’s purpose and how I can live that out.

Advent is a word that means the arrival of a notable person, thing or event. In the Christian context this word specifically means the arrival or coming of Christ. We have a new beautiful Advent calendar and this year it is helping my heart and my mind focus on the “reason for the season,” that with each day building up to Christmas I am remembering and hoping for what I live for and that is Jesus.

“We are celebrating what He has already done – the Good News – and waiting on His return.”

We are waiting expectantly for our Lord as we have been since the beginning. The song “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus” comes to my mind and heart as I just revel in the moment of realizing that I am in the same place as people were in the beginning. They had heard of the Messiah coming for years and years. The people of God were longing for the Messiah, the Savior. Isaiah spoke prophecies of the Lord’s coming and they waited.  “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son,and will call him Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14

A vulnerable child fulfilled great prophecies and affirmed the hope of many. Now we still sing in great expectation, Come thou Long expected Jesus and O Come Emmanuel, for the second arrival of our Jesus is still yet to come.

Overall this year, Advent has taken on new meaning for me as it truly is a beautiful representation of the ancient expectation of the Messiah and serving as a reminder of our faithful desire for His second coming. We are celebrating what He has already done, the Good News, and waiting on His return.

“An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” Luke 2:9-11

I pray we experience all the joys and blessings this world has to offer in this season, but that we also remember Your promises Lord. I pray we live in expectation, and that in this season of Advent people look to You for hope and direction. I pray we will remember Your goodness in Jesus and how He came into this world, how He left this world, and that He is returning. Amen.

What do you need to do in your heart to remember the promise that he is coming again? How are you living in the hope of his arrival? How might the season of Advent look for you this year and years to come?

-Caroline Reynolds, Downtown