Greg Strand is EFCA executive director of theology and credentialing, and he serves on the Board of Ministerial Standing as well as the Spiritual Heritage Committee. He and his family are members of Northfield (Minnesota) EFC.
Yesterday we began the season of Advent, which is part of the larger season in the church year leading up to the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ at Christmas.
It is a time to remember the birth of Christ (Matt. 1:18-25; Lk. 1:5-2:20; Gal. 4:4), the time at which the promises for the Messiah in the Old Testament were fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ (cf. Gen. 3:15; Isa. 7:14; 9:2-6; Mic. 5:2).
It is a time to ponder the Person of Jesus Christ (Jn. 1:1-18; Phil. 2:5-11; Col. 1:15-20; 1 Tim. 3:16).
It is a time to look ahead to the time when Christ will return in great power and glory (Matt. 24:30; 26:64; Rom. 1:4) to judge the living and the dead (Acts 10:42; 17:31; 2 Tim. 4:8; cf. 1 Thess. 4:15).
Remembering causes us to thank and praise the Lord for sending His Son to be the Savior of the world.
Pondering causes us to worship.
Looking ahead to the future return of Christ leads to a time of examination to ensure one is ready, prepared, and properly waiting for Christ’s second coming (Matt. 25:1-30; Phil. 3:20-21; 2 Thess. 2:6-13).
The posture of Remembering, pondering and looking ahead is active, not passive, which means one diligently and faithfully pursues the Lord and the things of the Lord while waiting (Tit. 2:11-15; 2 Pet. 3:11-14; 1 Jn. 3:2-3), those things that will receive the Lord’s commendation (Matt. 25:21, 23; Lk. 19:17).
I asked my teenage daughter to reflect on Advent and here is what she wrote: "Advent literally translated means "to come", signifying Jesus' coming to earth as a baby. There are several fun traditions we have done the past few years (some even from before I was born!). Every year, we read from the Scriptures and from an Advent book, sing favorite hymns and light advent candles. This we do in preparing our hearts for Christ and Christmas. "
How will you remember? How will you ponder? How will you look ahead? What difference will it make during this season of Advent? What difference will it make for your life thereafter?
O come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord!