In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register.
4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
21 On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.
We talk about “Advent” a lot in the church, but what does that actually mean? The word Advent means “to come” or “coming.” In this case, it refers to the four weeks before Christmas when we celebrate and prepare for the “coming” or the birth of Christ. Yes, Christ has already come in the physical sense, but we think of Christ as a continuing presence in our lives. We pray that Christ comes to us again and again as we renew our spirit each day. In that manner, we celebrate with anticipation until Christmas day.
Counting the days and weeks of Advent is one way to build anticipation for Christmas and keep the focus on Christ’s birth. You can purchase an Advent wreath or make one by hand as a family project. Display your wreath in a prominent place in your home so you are reminded of the true meaning of the season. It is ok to talk about Santa and other Christmas traditions, to fully embrace the festivities and the joy of this season. You can celebrate Christmas in the secular sense and also celebrate the greatest gift ever received in Jesus Christ. All is good, all is joyful, and all is a gift.
Dear God, in this Advent/Christmas season, I thank you for the gift of Jesus. I will never understand this great love you have for me, but today, I will try to honor the gift. Guide me as I seek to be a gift to others. Show me where there is need and guide me to bless others as you have blessed me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version ® NIV ®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2014 by Biblica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.