Are you ready for Christmas? By now most of us have our Christmas trees up and decorated. Some of us have set up Nativity scenes or decorated with Christmas lights. Others are finalizing travel plans, putting finishing touches on decorations, baking Christmas goodies, cleaning our homes in preparation for company, and doing last minute shopping. Is this what it means to be ready for Christmas- decorating, cleaning, baking, and shopping? Or is there something more to getting ready for Christmas?
As Christians, we are prepared to celebrate the birth of Christ by a special season called Advent. The word “Advent” means “coming.” During the season of Advent, we celebrate Jesus’ three-fold coming: His coming in the flesh at Christmas, His coming now through His Word and Sacrament, and His coming at the end of the world as King and Judge. Advent is also a time of personal preparation for Christ’s coming through repentance and faith.
One focus of the Advent season is getting ready for Christmas, the time when Christians celebrate Jesus’ first coming, as a baby born in Bethlehem. The Son of God took on our human flesh and was born to be our substitute to win for us salvation. He lived a holy life for us and died on the cross to take away our sins.
Advent is also a time to look ahead to Jesus’ coming again on the last day as the judge of living and the dead. For believers, this will not be a day of mourning and wrath but a day of rejoicing, when our bodies will join our souls in the joys of heaven.
Jesus prepares us to celebrate His coming in the flesh at Christmas and for His coming again at the last day by coming to us here and now through His Word. Jesus’ Word brings us the blessings of His first Advent: forgiveness, eternal life, and salvation and prepares us for His coming on the last day by working repentance and faith in our hearts.
As you count down to Christmas, in the midst of your shopping, baking, wrapping, and decorating, stop to prepare your heart for Christmas. Advent prepares us for this celebration, by focusing our attention on the three comings of Jesus: His birth, His Word, and on the Last Day. May our Advent prayer be “Come, Lord Jesus!” as we receive Him by repentance and faith.