Why Is Advent Important?
The Beginning of the Church Year
What is Advent?
This week, we begin the new Church Year. But you may ask, “Isn’t starting the church year the first week in December rather strange? Most organizations use the calendar year!” Well, there is a good reason for this! The period leading up to the birth of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, called “Advent”, begins the change from the Law to the Gospel. Advent means “the arrival” and is traditionally the season we use to prepare for the arrival of Jesus.
Law of God
Prior to Jesus arrival, followers of the one true God were subject to the Law of God. So what is the difference between Law and Gospel? As LCMS President Matthew Harrison stated in a 2014 Lutheran Reporter article,
The Law makes demands, which we could not, cannot and never will fulfill. “No one is righteous, no not one” (Rom. 3:10). “Even our righteous deeds are as filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). “The wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). If St. Paul laments about himself, “The good that I would do I do not do” (Rom. 7:19), where does that leave you? You have not a thought, an action or any of your physical, psychological or spiritual being that is not affected by and tainted by the reality of sin. And sin damns.
We would think of that today as horribly harsh. Sin damns. That means we don’t stand a chance. We are going to die and have no where to go but to visit with the devil himself. We are doomed. How can we even look to that and find any hope? We can’t.
Gospel of Jesus
But, God made a promise to His people, saying he would send a savior. Someone that would take our sins away and give us everlasting life. And that someone was His own Son, Jesus. God sacrificed His Son, for us. Sinners. People who cannot be without sin. We, who are so sinful, would be getting someone to take our place in death.
Jesus Came For Us
As President Harrison further states in his article,
The Gospel, however, makes no demands and even gives the faith needed to believe it (Eph. 2:8–9). The Gospel is the forgiveness of sins. jesus was slain from the foundation of the world for you (Matt. 25:34). Christ was prophesied in the Old Testament for you (Isaiah 53). He was conceived for you (Luke 1:26). Christ was born for you (Luke 2). Jesus Christ was circumcised and fulfilled the Old Testament ceremonial law for you (Luke 2:22).
The boy Christ taught in the temple for you! (You get the credit for His diligence in the catechism! See Luke 2:41.) John the Baptizer pointed to Jesus, saying, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)—for you. Jesus was baptized for you (Luke 3:21). Jesus was tempted for you (Luke 4). All of Jesus’ miracles, healings, words, promises, His Passion, His trials, His beating, His betrayal, His crucifixion, His ridicule, His words on the cross—“Forgive them, Lord, for they know not what they do!” (Luke 23:34); “Today you will be with Me in paradise!” (Luke 23:43)—His death, His descent in victory to hell and His glorious resurrection and ascension are all, all of it, for you! And that’s all Gospel!
Wow! What an awesome gift! If that doesn’t give you hope, I don’t know what will! God GAVE us His Son, Jesus! Jesus suffered and DIED for us. How awesome is that? We don’t have to worry about eternal damnation. Eternal life is given to us, even as we are sinful. That is Gospel!
What Comes Next?
But that doesn’t mean we can go and just do whatever we want. We still need to live a Godly life. Our job is still to follow the great commission, meaning, teach all nations about Jesus and His wonderful sacrifice on our behalf. We need to be faithful.
So now, to bring this back to why we start the church year now. This time of year is our time to prepare for the arrival of our Savior. We begin the year with the lead up to the birth of Jesus, and follow that with the life of our Savor. We follow Him as He begins His ministry. That leads us to His trial and death and follows with His resurrection three days later. The church year ends as we watch Jesus return to His Father in Heaven and we follow the disciples as they begin their ministry.
So as we come into this Advent season, we pray that you feel the love and the hope that is the beginning of the church year. Praying that you are inspired and are looking forward to the coming of our Savior and Lord Jesus.
Rejoice! Salvation is Near!