What are you doing to get ready for Christmas? Thanksgiving and Black Friday are behind us. It’s all downhill now! We shop, decorate, cook, throw parties, attend parties, send out Christmas cards, and we never seem to have enough time. With all of the season’s activity, we can easily lose sight of the spiritual side of Christmas.
For centuries Christians all over the world have celebrated Advent as a way of preparing themselves spiritually for Christmas. The term Advent means “coming” or “arrival.” It’s a time of looking forward to the arrival of Jesus. Advent begins four Sundays before Christmas, and it ends on Christmas Eve.
Many people use an Advent Wreath as part of their celebration. An Advent Wreath has five candles: three purple, one pink, and one white. Today is the first Sunday of Advent, so we light the Prophecy Candle. The Prophecy Candle’s purple color suggests seriousness and repentance. It also signifies royalty, which points us to the coming of the King—Jesus. The Prophecy Candle reminds us of the many promises God gave to prepare the world for the Messiah’s arrival.
A prophecy is a prediction or a promise God gives to provide a preview of His future plans. Unlike human predictions, God’s predictions always come true. God doesn’t guess what will happen. He doesn’t hope that something will occur. Instead, He makes a promise; and God always keeps His promises.
Luke, a doctor and historian who wrote the Gospel of Luke, tells about the birth of a prophet known as John the Baptist, whom God used to prepare people for Jesus’ ministry. When John was born, Luke says that,
67 His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied:
68 “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come to his people and redeemed them.
69 He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David
70 (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago),
71 salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us—
72 to show mercy to our ancestors and to remember his holy covenant,
73 the oath he swore to our father Abraham:
74 to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear
75 in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
76 And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him,
77 to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins,
78 because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
79 to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.”
Luke 1:67-79 (NIV)
Zechariah mentions that God had spoken “through his holy prophets of long ago” concerning the coming of Jesus. Over a span of several hundred years, God sent prophets so that we would be ready when Jesus came into our world. Zechariah also says that his own son, John, “will be called a prophet” who will “prepare the way” for Jesus.
Why did God send His prophets? Because He wanted the world to be ready for the coming of His Son. That’s why we celebrate Advent—because we want to prepare our hearts for Jesus’ arrival.
Reflection and Discussion
- What are you doing to get ready for Christmas?
- How will you prepare your heart for Jesus’ arrival?
Thank You for sending Your prophets to prepare the world for the coming of Your Son. Thank You for preserving those prophecies for us in the Bible. As we’re in the midst of all of our preparations for Christmas—decorating, shopping, parties, concerts—help us to make time to prepare our hearts for Jesus’ arrival. Please use this season of Advent to draw us nearer to Yourself.