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Celebrating Christmas

JBU Winter 2021 Subscription Special

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Celebrating Christmas

In the days and weeks leading up to Christmas, we tend to focus on that one day. We spend a month or more decorating our home, putting up a tree, buying and wrapping gifts to put under the tree, making cookies and planning a holiday meal, all to be enjoyed, unwrapped, and consumed in one day.

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It wasn’t always this way. Early Christians observed the 40 days leading up to Christmas with prayer, fasting, and penance. The season of Advent was meant to prepare hearts to commemorate the first incarnation of Christ while anticipating His second coming.

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The word Advent comes from the Latin adventus, which means arrival or appearance. In ancient Rome, adventus was used for the glorious entry of an emperor to his capital city, often following a military victory. The root of the word adventus is advenire—"to come.” How fitting, then, that Advent is the season when we celebrate the coming of Emmanuel, God with us. As in the chorus of the old Christmas carol, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” we welcome His entrance into the world in the form of a human infant, the Word become flesh:

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Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel

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But there is another meaning of Advent. The Greek word translated as adventus was parousia, which also refers to Christ’s second coming. Even as we celebrate the baby in a manger, we should be looking with hope to His promised return.

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Christians anticipate Christ’s second coming because that is when He will establish His reign on earth. We will be awarded a crown of righteousness (2 Tim. 4:8) and a resurrected body (1 Cor. 15:22-23; Phil. 3:21). For this reason, we must guard the teaching of the Word that has been entrusted to us (2 Tim. 1:12-14), keep ourselves pure (1 John 3:3), and build each other up (Eph. 4:29-32). What better way to celebrate Christmas!

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As we enter into this holiday season, let’s not get too caught up in the preparations for Christmas and forget about Advent. Let us prepare our hearts for the coming of the Savior, both as a human baby and a glorious returning King!

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If you are seeking a more meaningful Christmas this year, look through some of the resources listed here. Just Between Us (JBU) has gathered articles on topics ranging from dealing with grief and depression during the holidays to practicing God’s presence in the midst of Christmas chaos. We’re sure you’ll find something that draws you closer to the manger to see the face of Jesus.

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