"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests."
Luke 2:14 (NIV, 1984)
In Excelsis Deo – Latin for, “Glory to God in the Highest”. As I sit here and write my Daily Devotional, this Christmas classic is playing on our iPod. Yesterday was Thanksgiving, and about forty family members gathered at my house to celebrate and give thanks together. Today, the day after Thanksgiving, (a.k.a. “Black Friday”), we cleaned up, rested a bit and watched a movie as a family, "The Nativity Story". Watching this movie has become one of our family traditions that we observe during the Christmas season. I insist that we watch this movie at the beginning of the Christmas season because it helps to remind us why we celebrate Christmas.
We celebrate Christmas because during this season we get to celebrate the gospel, the good news of our Lord and God, Jesus Christ. We celebrate His incarnation, the Son of God, the second person of Trinity, God coming to earth in human flesh. We celebrate Immanuel, "God with us" (Isaiah 7:14 and Matthew 1:23). We celebrate the advent of the promised Messiah, the Savior of all humanity, who came to this earth for the first time about two thousand years ago to save sinners like you and me.
This first coming of Jesus, His first Advent (from the Latin word adventus meaning "coming"), was a beautiful and amazing event that billions continue to observe all around the world every year. I would like to share with all of you another Advent tradition that my family and I observe every year.
We celebrate the first coming of Jesus by setting aside a period of time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the birth of Jesus at Christmas, and to serve as a reminder of the Second Advent, or future coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. This period starts on the fourth Sunday before December 25; this year the first day of Advent falls on Sunday, November 27th.
Beginning this Sunday, November 27th, and the three Sundays that follow, we light an Advent candle in a Christmas wreath and spend a few minutes reading a Christmas story and centering our thoughts on Jesus. We also light a final or fifth candle on Christmas Day. Each of these candles has a special meaning. The first, second, and fourth candles are violet, and symbolize penitence. The candle for the third week is pink, symbolizing joy; and the final and fifth candle that we light on Christmas day is white. This candle is white because it represents Jesus, it is the “Christ candle”, and Jesus is our pure and spotless lamb who came to take away the sins of all humanity.
A Christmas-based book that we read last year was called, Jotham’s Journey, by Arnold Ytreeide. It was a riveting story that had us expectantly waiting and wondering what was coming during the next day’s reading. The story took place during first-century Palestine and was interwoven with the biblical account of the birth of Christ. This story so captivated us as a family that we wanted to hear more. This story serves as a reminder to me that the story of Jesus is not over and that we should be eagerly awaiting to hear more.
Why should we be waiting for more? Our Lord Jesus came two thousand years ago as a baby. He was a humble servant King who died for the sins of all people. In Acts 1:11, after Jesus ascended into heaven, an angel tells the disciples that Jesus is coming again! We get to see a glimpse of this Second Coming in Revelation 19:16. Jesus returns to this as a conquering King, riding a white horse,with a sword coming out of His mouth and on His robe and on His thigh He has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. The Bible says that with justice He judges and wages war, and that He is coming to take us all to heaven for the great supper of God. Wow! We get to be with Jesus, in heaven where there will be no more pain, no more suffering, no more tears, celebrating and feasting with Jesus for all eternity! As the writer of the Book of Revelation pens in Revelation 22:20, “He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.”
I say “AMEN!” in agreement with this verse and pray for Jesus to return quickly. In the meantime, let us take time daily to remember and celebrate Jesus’ first Advent, to also reflect on His daily presence in our lives, and finally, to eagerly anticipate His Second Coming; hopefully in the not so distant future!
Posted on Tue, November 29, 2011
by Kevin Ibanez