25 “Then there will be signs in the sun, moon, and stars; and there will be anguish on the earth among nations bewildered by the roaring of the sea and the waves. 26 People will faint from fear and expectation of the things that are coming on the world, because the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 But when these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is near.”
What are you looking forward to during this Christmas season? For many people, this time of year is filled with a lot of extras—family time, parties, shopping, traditions, food, and more. One thing I always look forward to during Advent is the songs we sing as a church. They remind me of the hope found in the Jesus and God’s plan to provide a way for all people to be restored. “Silent Night,” “O Holy Night,”” Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” and many others help prepare my heart to celebrate the arrival of my King. Simply put, this season is a season of hope.
In Luke 21, Jesus is asked a question by His disciples. They, like us, are anticipating the second return of Jesus, even though He hasn’t ascended into heaven yet. They ask Jesus, “What should we look for to show us You are returning?” It seems like an innocent question, doesn’t it? However, the imagery Jesus uses is strong and possibly scary. His words are much different than the songs we sing during Advent. Nations rising against nations. Violent earthquakes, famines and plagues. Persecution. Betrayal. Anguish on earth. Doesn’t that just scream, MERRY CHRISTMAS?
Jesus is being honest with the people He calls His. He doesn’t sugar coat what is to come. He doesn’t try to make the future shiny and clean. He paints a picture of what to expect, and He ends it with hope. Notice what He says at the end of Luke 21:28, “But when these things begin to take place, stand up and lift your heads, because your redemption is near.” When things begin to look bad, when the world starts to fall apart, stand up. Look around. Because that which you are anticipating—the return of Jesus—is near. Feel the anticipation!
Advent is about the coming King. We sing about the coming of the King in the form of a baby. We celebrate God’s plan of salvation. But we also anticipate the return of our King. So as you sing your Advent songs, as you look forward to time with family and food and shopping and gift giving, don’t forget to look forward to and prepare for the return of King Jesus!
Questions to Ask Yourself
- What are some things you look forward to during the Advent season? How do they help you celebrate the first coming of King Jesus?
- Advent is also about anticipating the second coming of King Jesus. What are some practical ways you can do this during the Advent season?
- Reflect on the stark difference in the two comings of Jesus and how His arrival is announced. Both arrivals have hope flowing out of them. Do you find your hope in Christ? If not, who is someone you talk to about discovering hope? If yes, who is someone you can share this hope with?
As a family, talk about your favorite traditions during Advent and Christmastime. For my family, we look forward to Christmas day by doing a Jesse tree devotional each day in Advent and a chocolate filled Advent calendar. This year, our church family is producing an Advent devotional for your family to do at home.
Reach out to your campus’s children’s minister to obtain an Advent devotional (digitally or print) and commit as a family to participate each day in advent. Some days it will be easier to complete than others, but remind your family that this is not to add something else to your to do list, but instead to prepare your hearts, not just for Christmas morning but for Jesus to return – our ultimate hope and redemption.
As the Advent season around the world turns attention to the birth of Jesus, pray for opportunities for gospel conversations. Pray that Christ followers in every nation will be alert and responsive to these opportunities.