Advent comes from the Latin word 'adventus' which means 'coming'. Traditionally, Advent is celebrated as the season leading up to Christmas which begins exactly four Sundays before December 25th. As early as the fourth century A.D., Christians would normally fast during this season because the whole purpose of Advent was to look forward to the coming of Christ to earth. Therefore, the essence of the Advent season is found in the posture of expectantly waiting.
In his first letter found in the New Testament, the apostle Peter gives us a description of what this kind of expectant waiting looks like:
Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look. (1 Peter 1:10-12)
Peter describes how the prophets of the Old Testament were limited in their understanding of ‘human salvation through the grace of God’, but they longed to know more. They searched and inquired carefully hoping to gain further revelation from the Spirit but patiently waited as long as it pleased God to delay the day of the Christ’s coming.
So for us today living on this side of the initial coming of Christ, may this Advent season be one in which we try and place ourselves in the eager, expectant shoes of those early prophets who longed for the eventual coming of God’s salvation. Even though they taught of His coming they didn’t know 'what person or time the Spirit in them was indicating'. They were waiting for a Christ they didn’t know; how much more ought we to wait expectantly for the Christ who is now fully known? This same Jesus is coming again and so again we wait.
May we be people expectantly waiting for the return of Christ.
So what is it that we are anticipating and waiting for so expectantly this Christmas season? Where is our focus these four weeks leading up to December 25th? May we avoid the onslaught of worldly distractions that overwhelm us this time of year and shift our focus back upon waiting in wonder for Christ who has come and will one day come again.