Introducing Downline’s Advent Devotionals | December 2013
Some of you are very familiar with the observance of the Advent season; others are less so. For those who are for the first time wondering about the relevance of Advent—and for others who may be simply looking for a reminder—we offer this introductory post for our Downline Advent Devotionals.
The Background of Advent
Our English word “advent” comes from the Latin adventus, meaning “coming.” Adventus is the Latin translation of the Greek word parousia, which is used about 25 times in the New Testament. As Christians, we observe the advent, or “the coming”, of Christ in two directions: the first coming of Christ at his birth and the second coming of Christ at his return or “Second Coming” (thus, you may have heard of “First Advent” and “Second Advent”).
We look back to and commemorate the first coming of Christ at Christmas. The Advent Season begins four Sundays before Christmas and continues up through Christmas morning. Therefore, many of our churches will refer to this coming Sunday as “The first Sunday of Advent.”
Using the word “parousia/adventus”, Peter wrote: “For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased’…”
This message of Christmas–a Savior born to die and raise three days later–is the Christian gospel. As Christians we must remember this first advent and teach it to all who will listen–our kids, neighbors, non-Christian friends, and fellow church members.
However, we also look forward to the Second Advent of Christ; that still-future return of the King of Kings who will reign forevermore. Jesus and his disciples discussed this coming (Matt 24), and Paul explained it to the believers in Corinth and Thessalonica (1 Cor 15:23; 1 Thess 2:19; 313; 4:15; 5:23; 2 Thess 2:1, 8). Though doubters in the first century scoffed, as they still do today, and said “Where is He? He’s never coming back!” (2 Pet 3:4), believers should patiently and confidently expect and look for his return (James 5:7-8; 1 John 2:28).
Stewarding This Season
Ariyana Rimson recently taught a session about Jesus to our Emerging Leader women while I was teaching a concurrent session to the men. Our talks were similar, but her structure was much more clever than mine. She organized her material around the acronym C-H-R-I-S-T.
C – Continuity. When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, this wasn’t his beginning. As God, He is eternal—no beginning and no end.
H – History. In the New Testament we see the manifestation of Jesus at the First Advent, but the Old Testament anticipates His coming. Jesus has a history beginning in the Old Testament, where there are prophecies and pictures lining the path like breadcrumbs to lead us to Christ.
R – Reason. This speaks to His purpose – the reason for His coming. Jesus came to seek and to save the lost. He came not to be served but to serve and to save to Himself a people.
I – Incarnation. Having covered his eternality (“Continuity”), his connection to Old Testament promises (“History”), and his purpose (“Reason”), we see the how and when of this plan coming into action. This is the stuff of Christmas: a baby born in a manger—God taking on flesh—who would save the world.
S – Salvation. We’ve talked of His purpose and for the miraculous birth that set things in motion, but here we consider the work that He actually accomplished. The death and resurrection of Jesus is the good news by which we are saved and in which we stand confidently!
T – Today. Given all of these deep truths about Jesus, ask yourself: What difference does it make today? What is Christ up to today? What does it mean for your life specifically and in the world generally?
Over the next month, we’ll be focusing on of these truths surrounding the person and work of Jesus Christ. Our hope and prayer is that our string of Downline Advent Devotionals–every morning from December 2nd to December 25th–will help you commemorate the First Advent and anticipate the Second.
In addition to your personal edification, we hope that you may be able to use these posts to teach others about the importance of this season as well. Spend some time thinking about how you might steward this season. Don’t let it pass you by without reflection and don’t let the American marketing machine beat you down and grind you up. Be an intentional steward. Before the Advent season arrives try using the C-H-R-I-S-T acronym above to talk about Jesus with someone (your family, a non-Christian co-worker, a small group Bible Study). This may set the tone for experiencing and talking about Jesus in a fresh way this year.
We’ll see you each day in December!
Jason Seville is Downline’s Emerging Leader Director, Director of Resources, and a church planting resident with Fellowship Associates. You can follow him on Twitter or keep up with him at his blog.