There is so much excitement about the holidays right now back as you read about it in the newspapers, you see it on television, you hear about it on the radio. The Internet is abuzz with comments about the holidays. It doesn’t matter where you’re from or what faith you hold to almost everyone in Western society is looking forward with excitement to the holiday season.
Do you remember back when you were a child to the excitement that you experienced leading up to Christmas? Most children go to bed “with visions of sugarplums dancing in your head” thinking about what Christmas is going to be like. For a child, the excitement of Christmas often has to do with the unknown. When a child sees their name on it beautifully wrapped package under the tree, they can’t help but get excited. When a child is certain that there will be toys in their stocking on Christmas morning, it can be hard to sleep at night.
Adults also experience the excitement of the holiday season. For most adults, we still look forward to exchanging gifts. Many of us enjoy going to Christmas parties. Some adults even look forward to the opportunity to drink eggnog during the Christmas season– though I can’t understand why anyone would want to drink that nasty stuff!
The parties, pastries, or presents are great during the Christmas season. However, for most of us there’s something that far surpasses these three. Most of us look forward with excitement to the Christmas season because this is the time where family and friends come together. Some families only get together during the Christmas season. I don’t know about you, but I long for Christmas as an adult as much as I did as a child because I look forward to reuniting with family and friends.
This longing to be with friends and family is the essence of what makes the holiday season so universally appealing in our society. I also believe that it’s good that we continue to look forward with excitement to the holidays. I think there is a Biblical lesson that we can learn from the holiday season.
Longing for reunion
The word advent is a Latin word that means arrive. For those of you that are familiar with the church calendar, you know that the advent season started on December 1, 2019 and continues until Christmas Eve. Advent, as a season of worship, begins four Sundays before Christmas. It usually involves prayer and fasting. This season parallels directly with a season of longing in the Bible.
In the Old Testament, people of faith would fast and pray longing for the appearing of the Messiah. This is the essence of the discussion that Jesus had with the Pharisees about fasting in Matthew 9:14-15. The Pharisees were confused about why Jesus’s followers didn’t follow the religious custom of fasting. Jesus made it very clear that the reason his disciples didn’t fast, is because they were in the presence of God’s Messiah. Basically, Jesus was saying, there’s no need to long for a relationship with somebody who is standing right in front of your face.
Part of the joy and excitement of the Christmas season is longing to be reunited with somebody that has been away for most of the year. The excitement that we experience longing for Christmas is the same excitement that God’s people experienced. Do you long to be in the presence of God? I hope your relationship with Jesus is as exciting to you as a child opening gifts on Christmas morning. The advent season is our yearly reminder that there is a future reunion yet to come for God’s people. A physical reunion, where we will see Jesus with our own eyes. We long for the return of God’s Messiah, like the faithful in the Old Testament long for his first appearance.
A restored relationship
Advent also represents the restoration of a relationship. There was a period of 400 years of silence in the Old Testament. This silence prepared God’s people for the arrival of his son. God was also silent because his people had turned their back on him. Amos 8:11 describes God’s punishment against the sin of his people by sending a famine of silence, whereby they will no longer be able to hear from him.
The end of the advent season represents a restoration of relationship between two strained parties. When the King returns, he will restore what sin has broken. Perhaps you feel the strain on our relationship that has been harmed over the course of this year. Perhaps you were looking forward to someone coming home this holiday season because you need to fix some things in that relationship. Advent is a longing for reunion and restoration of a relationship.
The greatest gift I think anyone will ever receive this Christmas is the gift of forgiveness from God. The gift of a restored relationship with the One who made you. The gift of intimacy and fellowship with God in Heaven. If you’ve never been offered that gift before, I want to explain to you how you can receive that gift today. John 1:12-13 describes this gift this way, “But to all who did receive him, he gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in his name, who were born, not of natural descent or of the will of the flesh, or of the will of man, but of God.”
If you will turn to him in simple faith, he will respond by changing your life. If you feel the Holy Spirit drawing you into a relationship with Jesus today, you can surrender to him body and soul through this simple prayer:
Dear God, I recognize that I am a sinner. Some of the storms that I am facing in life are because of my own mistakes. I understand that my sin deserves punishment. However, I believe that you love me so much that you did not leave me in my sin. You sent your Son Jesus to pay the penalty for my sin and to offer me the gift of forgiveness. Today I turn from my sin and trust only in the Lord Jesus Christ as my Savior. I believe that his death paid the price for my sin and his resurrection provides me the promise of eternal life. From this moment forward I will trust you when life gets difficult. Amen.
If you made that simple prayer from a sincere heart, I would
like to know about it. Email me: firstname.lastname@example.org. Merry Christmas.
 Christian Standard Bible (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017), Jn 1:12–13.