Throughout the Bible, God promised the Advent or coming of His son, Jesus. This is one of the most important events in all of human history—the almighty, eternal, Creator of the universe becoming human, living among us, and suffering on our behalf in order to give us life.
The Old Testament looked expectantly for the Advent of God’s forever King, the anointed One who would bring peace to His people. Isaiah 9:6 anticipates and declares, “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.”
For centuries, Christians around the world have used the four weeks leading up to Christmas to prepare for the celebration of Jesus’ birth. It’s a time of anticipation when we observe His first coming and look forward to His second coming. It’s a time of hope, peace, joy, and love. This holiday season, join us in discovering the true spirit of Advent.
WEEK 1: HOPE
Hope is waiting for God to bring about good in our lives. It’s different than optimism, which looks for the silver lining in the cloud of circumstance. Instead, biblical hope chooses to wait expectantly for God to bring His goodness to bear in our future regardless of how dark our circumstances are. This hope comes from God’s past faithfulness. At Advent, we look backward in order to look forward to a better future. Our hope is that God will liberate humanity and the entire universe from evil.
- What do you hope for this Christmas season? On what is hope based?
- Biblical hope is based on a person (God), not circumstances, and looks back in order to hope for the future. Take a moment to look back to your past: What has God done for you in the past, and how does it affect your hope for the future?
WEEK 2: PEACE
Biblical peace means to make complete or to restore to a state of wholeness. The Advent of Jesus is the arrival of peace. He not only made peace with God for us, but He became our peace. Through the Advent of Jesus, we are no longer in conflict with God, and God has restored us to a state of wholeness.
- As we understand biblical peace (shalom), we know it is not just the absence of conflict but the presence of something else. Looking at your life, how would you describe your personal shalom?
- What are some of the things that bring peace to your life? What are some things that prevent peace in your life?
- Do you sense God is inviting you into a shalom (peace) in any specific areas of your life?
WEEK 3: JOY
Biblically, joy is an attitude that God’s people adopt, not because of good circumstances but because of God’s love and promises. It’s our future destiny, not our current struggles, that determine our joy as we anticipate our future redemption. Joy isn’t about ignoring the negative aspects of life, but rather, it’s a profound decision of faith and hope in Jesus’ life and love.
- As you journey through this Advent season, how would you rank your joy on a scale of 1-10? How would others rank your joy?
- Understanding biblical joy refers to joy even in the midst of the wilderness or tough circumstances. Can you recall a moment when you found joy in a really tough time? How did that feel?
- If you are struggling to find joy this Advent season, can you discern where God is waiting in your life to bring you joy?
WEEK 4: LOVE
Love is a kind of love that seeks the well-being of others, even enemies, without looking for anything in return. The magnitude of God’s love was revealed in the Advent, life, and death of Jesus. The heart of the Christian faith is a trust that at the center of the universe is a being that is overflowing with love for this world and that our primary purpose is to receive His love and express it back to others.
- How much do you really trust God loves you?
- What does God’s love look like or feel like in your life?
- Realizing God’s love is a kind of love that seeks the well-being of others (even enemies) first and without anything in return, can you recall an enemy that you have loved with God’s love? What was that like?
The wait is over! Today, we celebrate the birth, the coming, of Jesus the Christ, the Son of David, and the very Son of God. He came over 2,000 years ago and will come again! Please join us in this joyful celebration at one of our Christmas Eve services and embrace the light of Christ.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” — Luke 2:8-12
- How has making space for Advent shaped your month preceding Christmas?
- What are some of the most meaningful moments of the past 30 days with God, your family, and others?
- Are there places in your life that have been freshly formed by experiencing the love of God this Advent season? How has it changed those areas?