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The word “advent” means “coming” in Latin, and today — Christmas Day — we celebrate that the King has come! On a day that is often filled with noise, cheer, family, food, and loved ones, I think back to the day Jesus was born. While Christmas today has become a holiday full of celebration and gifts, it was quite the opposite on Jesus’ birthday. When Mary and Joseph returned to Bethlehem for the census, they were returning to Joseph’s hometown. Yet when the time came that she would give birth, Jesus was not born in the home of a relative or even in the inn. He was wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger surrounded by animals instead of His extended family. In the same country, an angel of the Lord appeared to a group of shepherds watching over their flocks and told them the news. The shepherds were amazed and set off to worship the newborn King. The prophecies were true: The long-awaited Messiah had come and was lying in a manger.

There was not a Christmas tree with gifts piled beneath it or a candlelight service the evening before. There were not crowds of loved ones to celebrate with or tables filled with a feast to enjoy. The Messiah was born of a virgin in a cold barn surrounded by animals. He had come. He has come. Though our Christmas celebrations look different today than they did the night Jesus was born, there are many reasons to celebrate. After centuries of anticipation and wondering when the Savior of the world would arrive to rescue the world from its own captivity, He was born Emmanuel, God With Us.

Jesus sacrificed. He lived a perfect life (1 Peter 2:21-22 says, “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in His steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in His mouth.”) He was sent that we may have life with our Heavenly Father forever, was tempted but did not sin (Hebrews 4:14), and died the death that we deserved (Romans 4:25).

Thousands of years later, we are again awaiting the coming of our promised King. We wait in advent knowing that our Savior, the same newborn King the shepherds worshipped on a dark night all those years ago and who we worship today, is coming again for us so we can spend eternity with Him.