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.
Advent 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 of remembering 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), pondering the Person of Jesus Christ (Jn. 1:1-18; Phil. 2:5-11; Col. 1:15-20; 1 Tim. 3:16), and looking 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).
Pondering 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). This waiting 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).
A new Advent resource has been compiled from John Piper’s sermons and writings that is a free download: Good News of Great Joy: Daily Readings for Advent.
In the introduction, “What Does Jesus Want This Christmas?,” Piper focuses on the conclusion of Jesus’ high priestly prayer in John 17:24-26. What Jesus wants, Piper concludes, is that we “see my [His] glory” (v. 24) with the final goal being “that the love with which you [Father] have loved me may be in them, and I in them” (v. 26). Jesus’ desire is that we both see and savor His glory. Here is how Piper explains this.
What Jesus wants most for Christmas is that his elect be gathered in and then get what they want most—to see his glory and then savor it with the very savoring of the Father for the Son.
What I want most for Christmas this year is to join you (and many others) in seeing Christ in all his fullness and that we together be able to love what we see with a love far beyond our own half-hearted human capacities. This is our goal in these Advent devotionals. We want together to see and savor this Jesus whose first “advent” (coming) we celebrate, and whose second advent we anticipate.
This is what Jesus prays for us this Christmas: “Father, show them my glory and give them the very delight in me that you have in me.” Oh, may we see Christ with the eyes of God and savor Christ with the heart of God. That is the essence of heaven. That is the gift Christ came to purchase for sinners at the cost of his death in our place.
Advent begins this Sunday, December 2. I encourage you to download this resource and use it as a supplement to your personal Bible reading. You may also consider using it for your family devotions. My family has followed a Scripture reading plan designed especially for Advent, which we have supplemented with singing Christmas hymns. It has profoundly impacted and shaped all of us, my wife and me, and our children.