The season of Advent started today. What a meaningful experience Christmas becomes as we ponder the birth of Christ throughout this next month.
The first Sunday of Advent focuses on Hope and the prophecies that predict the birth of Jesus. The prophet Isaiah wrote of the birth of a Savior, a Messiah, hundreds of years before the birth of Christ:
2 The people who walked in darkness
Have seen a great light;
Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death,
Upon them a light has shined.
3 You have multiplied the nation
And increased its joy;[a]
They rejoice before You
According to the joy of harvest,
As men rejoice when they divide the spoil.
4 For You have broken the yoke of his burden
And the staff of his shoulder,
The rod of his oppressor,
As in the day of Midian.
5 For every warrior’s sandal from the noisy battle,
And garments rolled in blood,
Will be used for burning and fuel of fire.
6 For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.
Handel used these verses in his famous oratorio, The Messiah:
A hymn that is often sung on this first Sunday of Advent is Come Thou Long Expected Jesus by Charles Wesley:
Come, thou long expected Jesus,
born to set thy people free;
from our fears and sins release us,
let us find our rest in thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation,
hope of all the earth thou art;
dear desire of every nation,
joy of every longing heart.
Born thy people to deliver,
born a child and yet a King,
born to reign in us forever,
now thy gracious kingdom bring.
By thine own eternal spirit
rule in all our hearts alone;
by thine all sufficient merit,
raise us to thy glorious throne.
Instead of rushing around for the next four weeks, cooking, partying, shopping, and decorating, let’s take time each day to think about what Christmas means, why Jesus was born, and why we needed Him to come. As we stop and ponder, as we think about our God who humbled Himself, took on flesh, and became one of us so that we might know Him, may we each slow down and understand who this Jesus is and the true beauty of this Christmas season.