How is Advent Celebrated: Remembering Christ in 2021
Updated: Apr 7
How is Advent celebrated? Advent season is one of hopeful expectation, particularly for Christ's coming. Honoring Christ's miraculous virgin birth recognizes His divine nature . As this year comes to a close, it brings with it many memories, chaos, burdens, and expectations. The heart grows weary by waiting on the next event about the unfold: a new year unraveling. In culture today, the essence of the hope that Christ brings has been laden with a hard yoke of sin with no new horizon that's seen on the dawn of a new day. We've forgotten, it seems, the hope that is waiting to change our lives.
"Now the birth of Jesus Christ[ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall call his name Immanuel”
(which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus" (Matthew 1:18-25, ESV).
Dissecting the Matthew 1 Devotional Text
The author of Matthew has been held by biblical scholars as the disciple Matthew, a follower of Jesus and also a former tax collector. Matthew was Hebrew yet chose to become a tax collector and was rejected by his society. It was seen as a betrayal, since so many Hebrews struggled under the wages of the Roman government. This gospel account was written between AD 60-65 and is believed by scholars to have been written after Mark's account since Matthew uses a lot of details from Mark's testimony. Matthew's purpose for writing this book was to inform the Jews about their Messiah and to chronologically detail the life of Christ and the advent of the new eternal kingdom to come, made alive through Christ and continued through the Holy Spirit (New Living Translation Bible, 2013).
During the time of the above scripture, there was a betrothal period that was a hallmark of the Jewish culture. This period occurred before the marriage (a kind of engagement) and was usually a year long if the bride-to-be was not a widower (in this case the betrothal period lasted only 30 days). When a man and woman agreed to be married, it was custom for the man to meet with the woman's father to obtain the blessing for marriage and then paid the father a certain price before going off to prepare a place for his future bride. Once the place was established, the groom-to-be would come back for his future bride and they would be joined together (Jewish Encyclopedia, 2021).
This same illustration is used by Jesus later in Matthew as a metaphor for how Christ will gather His bride, the Church of believers. God chose a virgin to enter into the world He created, becoming carnation to ransom Himself to save humanity.
How is Advent Celebrated?
Advent is celebrated differently among religions. In the Judeo-Christian faiths, it is celebrated by honoring Christ's divine nature in His miraculous virgin birth. His virgin birth reveals He was 100% man and 100% God with no blot of sin. The "seed" of the woman and the divine nature of God the Father, Christ would enter into the world with. We enter into another advent season as the year 2021 comes to a close. This season is one of hopeful expectation, particularly for Christ's coming. Yet, Christ has been removed from Christmas and replaced with lesser gods of our own making. Santa, busyness, money, false provisions. Instead of hope, we have become entangled with fear. In spite of this, God allows hearts and minds to be open this season as His name brings hope and healing. Those who are usually closed off to the Gospel now engage in conversations about Christ. Those who are lost can become found. Amidst the twinkling lights, Christmas decorations, Christmas songs, and busyness this season brings, humanity can almost be heard asking "is there more to this life?" Indeed, there is.
Remembering Christ This Advent Season
700 years passed after Isaiah had prophesied about the coming Messiah (Isaiah 53). Israel had been captured by both Egypt and Babylon within this time period and knew the deep trauma that slavery had burned into their heritage. They had also been afflicted by war and displacement, refugees from their homeland. Thirty generations were affected by slavery and they couldn't find the hope that lingers around this season. Yet, at the birth of Immanuel, the whole world rejoiced. God was with us, and still is with us with the Holy Spirit for those that accepted Him. The Gospel became known to the Gentiles and the Jews, the free and the enslaved, for the first time.
As this year comes to a close, we can reflect on this year and look to a new horizon.
Will we trade fear for hope?
Can we lay aside our own idols in favor of a greater One, Christ that brought salvation to humanity?
Do we see the need for rescue from our own depravity?
Can we extend forgiveness and the eternal gift of the Gospel to others?
How are our lives currently being a living sacrifice and if they aren't, how can we start?
Let's remember Christ this season and lay aside every weight, sin, and trespass that holds us in bondage and a slave to sin.