Home Voices Advent: The Birth of Christ Is Too Big for One Day

Advent: The Birth of Christ Is Too Big for One Day

Why Celebrate Advent?

Photo: Max Beck via Unsplash

Yes, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas—which, for many of us, feels like a rush into chaos.

Between all the gift giving, cookie baking, and party hosting, it can be difficult to find time to breathe, let alone reflect. Our consumeristic culture returns each year in full swing, doing all it can to dazzle and distract us; believe me, this Christmas season won’t be any different.

Believers sport bumper stickers and coffee mugs with the saying ‘Jesus is the reason for the season,’ but do we really mean it? Would Christmas be just as joy-filled even if Santa and his sleigh were taken out of the picture?

Celebrating Advent during this season slows us down and helps our hearts and minds be reoriented around the coming of Christ. This season is a celebration of many things, but mostly—powerfully—it’s a celebration of a baby boy born 2,000 years ago in the tiny town of Bethlehem. He is Jesus: the long-awaited Messiah. He spent his days on earth healing the sick, speaking life to the hurting, and bringing sight to the blind.

But it didn’t just end there.

In the greatest act of love this world has ever seen, Jesus gave up his life for the redemption of humankind.

I don’t know about you, but that’s what I want to celebrate this Christmas—a gift much greater than the latest department store gadgets and gizmos. In light of this, here are some ways that I’ve found to make the Advent season more meaningful.

First, learn to live and lean into the moment. The Advent season isn’t just for Anglicans, Baptists, or Pentecostals—it’s for all believers in every time and place. Right now as a church, we come together in celebration of a particular moment in history—a night that, in many respects, changed everything.

In his book Hidden Christmas, Tim Keller tells us that Christmas “is not just about a birth but about a coming.” God in the flesh made his home in our midst, and in doing so flew right in the face of our expectation that he was somehow distant or disinterested.

During this time of Advent, we remember Christ’s coming and long to express gratitude for all that he’s done and live with joyful expectation for all that he has yet to do. We want to feel the excitement of the magi and experience the nervousness of the virgin Mary as she held baby Jesus in her arms for the first time. We don’t want historical or cultural context to prevent us from experiencing the wonder of earth’s first Christmas.

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Ed Stetzer, Ph.D., is a professor and dean at Wheaton College where he also serves as Executive Director of the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center. He has planted, revitalized, and pastored churches, trained pastors and church planters on six continents, has earned two master’s degrees and two doctorates, and has written hundreds of articles and a dozen books. He is Regional Director for Lausanne North America, is the editor-in-chief of Outreach Magazine, and is frequently cited in, interviewed by, and writes for news outlets such as USAToday and CNN. He is the Founding Editor of The Gospel Project, a curriculum used by more than 1.7 million individuals each week for bible story. His national radio show, Ed Stetzer Live, airs Saturdays on Moody Radio and affiliates. He serves as interim teaching pastor of Calvary Church in New York City and serves as teaching pastor at Highpoint Church.