You movie-goers know them well. Right after you spend a small fortune on your buttered popcorn and drink, and right before the main feature, you get the “Coming Attractions.” Of course, these are meant to peak your interest and get you excited for what is coming next. They want you to be ready for what’s to come.
Many Christians, we Lutherans included, are in the “pre-Christmas season” of Advent. Of course, this time includes many of the typical Christmas season events and activities, but it also draws us into some distinct themes and thoughts.
The term Advent means “coming.” The season of Advent includes the four Sundays and four weeks before Christmas. So, when you read this we will already be nearly half way through it. Thinking back to our movie-going experiences and also thinking about Advent, we ask the question, “What are the Coming Attractions of Advent?” And what about these makes us want to “get ready” and “be ready?”
Through the years many Christian teachers have taught about the three “comings” of Advent. Let’s call them the three “Coming Attractions of Advent.”
The first one of these is what we think of the most. It is the coming of Jesus as the Babe of Bethlehem and the Savior of the world. It is most definitely true and worth reminding ourselves over and over that “Jesus is the reason for the season.” We buy each other gifts for Christmas because Jesus is God’s greatest gift sent down from heaven to earth to redeem the world from sin, death, and the devil. Advent reminds us that in the hustle and bustle of decorations, parties, Santa, and shopping, the most important preparation is for the celebration of the birthday of our Lord Jesus.
I know many of you participate in or surely attend special programs and productions that declare the joy and importance of Jesus’s birth and the meaning of His life … and death and resurrection. These kinds of special celebrations happen throughout this Advent season up until Christmas. Here at Prince of Peace our “feature celebrations” are our Christmas Eve special services.
We will celebrate the coming of Jesus beginning with a “Living Nativity” service Christmas Eve at 4 p.m. Yes, we will have live animals to help tell the manger scene story. This time and this format are particularly good for families with children. Then at both 8 and 11 p.m. we will have traditional Candlelight Communion services, which are an annual “must” for so many people. We invite you to come to these. So, the first “Coming Attraction of Advent” is the coming of Jesus as the Babe of Bethlehem.
The second of these “Coming Attractions” is the deep peace and strength we feel because Jesus has come into our hearts again right now as we live life every day. And in this Advent season, we take time for conscious intentional moments of prayer and devotion in order again to make our hearts ready to receive Him and enjoy the benefits of His dwelling within us. The third stanza of “O Little Town of Bethlehem” declares it so beautifully.
“How silently, how silently the wondrous gift is given!
“So God imparts to human hearts the blessing of His heaven.
“No ear may hear His coming; but, in this world of sin,
“Where meek souls sill receive Him still,
“The dear Christ enters in.”
My prayer for you this Advent is that Christ will enter your heart, either again and in a more full way, or perhaps for the first time which will be the greatest gift you will ever receive. Thus, the second “Coming Attraction.”
Then finally, the third “Coming Attraction of Advent” is the urgent reminder that Christ will come again on The Last Day. At a time only God the Father knows and will decide, Christ will return in His full glory and power, and He will, as we declare in the Apostles’ Creed, “ … come again to judge the living and the dead.”
It almost seems a bit odd to put this “warning” into this time of year. However, it is only an ominous and frightening “warning” to those who are not prepared for this eminent event, and it gives those precious souls time to prepare their hearts and make their lives ready for it.
For us who already believe and have put our full trust and faith in Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we know “The Last Day” will be the most glorious day of full joy and full blessing and eternal life in heaven with The One True God and all people who have believed in Him.
When Christ “comes again,” we will sing with full and ultimate joy,
“Joy to the world, The Lord is come!
“Let earth receive her King.
“Let every heart prepare Him room
“And heaven and nature sing!”
And we add, “Come, Lord Jesus, come!” Amen
Kollmeyer invites all to Prince of Peace Christmas Eve services: 4 p.m. “Living Nativity” with Candlelighting; 8 and11 p.m. Candlelight Communion services. Christmas Day: One service 11 a.m. New Year’s Day: One service 11 a.m. www.princeofpeacefayette.org.