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What is Advent?
by Linda Ryzenga
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(Children's Sunday School curriculum)

The four weeks before Christmas is a very special time. It is a time of waiting and getting ready, You may ask, What are we waiting and getting ready for?
We are waiting and getting ready for Jesus to be born. There is much preparation in our homes before Christmas.

Let us think about the first Christmas. The night that Jesus was born.

Mary and Joseph were traveling to Bethlehem to register their names for a census. They had to travel from where they lived in Nazareth to the town of Bethlehem. Mary knew that Jesus would be born soon. She and Joseph had been waiting and getting ready for Jesus' birth. When they arrived in Bethlehem, they stopped at an inn (a hotel) to rent a room for the night. They had traveled for three days, and Mary was very tired. But when they stopped at the inn, the inn keeper told them that there was no room for them. All the rooms were full, so he told them they could stay in the stable(like a barn), and that night baby Jesus was born. Mary had brought strips of cloth with her and she used them to wrap the baby Jesus and then placed Him in the manager(Luke 2:7)

A manager was a feeding trough for the animals (sheep, goats, cattle, etc.) Wasn't that a strange bed for a baby who would grow up to be a Savior for all who would accept Him?

Now, let's remember the shepherds. They were in the field nearby the night Jesus was born. They were watching their sheep so they wouldn't wander off or get attacked by wolves or other wild animals. The shepherds knew that something was going to happen, that possibly a Savior would be born for all the people who would believe in Him. They didn't know, however, exactly when this would happen. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared to the shepherds in the field and told them that, indeed, a Savior had been born and He is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:11) The angel told them where to go to find the baby, Jesus. The shepherds were over-joyed, and very excited, so they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manager. (Luke 2:16)

Now, what about the wise men, or as they were called, the Magi. They had been looking for the baby Jesus for a long, long time. They did not find Him until much later, and they brought gifts for the baby Jesus. (Matt 2:10-11) They had been traveling and following a star in the east, looking for the baby possibly as long as three years.

We are learning that Advent is a time of waiting and getting ready to celebrate Jesus' birth. There is much to do in the four weeks before Christmas. Some of us bake cookies, and some of us make Christmas decorations. Then there's buying gifts and wrapping them. What are we doing when we prepare all of these things? We are getting ready to celebrate a birthday that happened over 2,000 years ago, Jesus Christ's birthday.

Sometimes we become so busy with all the preparations that we forget why we're doing this. Let's not forget this Christmas that Jesus is the reason we are celebrating Christmas. We should have love in our hearts because Jesus loved us very much, and He still does today.

Joy is also something we should have at Christmas and throughout the year. The shepherds were over-joyed at Jesus' birth, and also the magi, who had traveled a long way to see the baby Jesus. Mary and Joseph were full of joy because God had given them a son, who would be a Savior to all who would accept Him. Yes, there was much joy that first Christmas. Let us continue to have joy, not only at Christmas, but throughout the year. Jesus came that we might have eternal life, What joy!

Now we can have peace in our hearts throughout the year because we know that Jesus lives, and He is right here with us. He can live in each of our hearts. All we need to do is ask Him to come into our hearts. Let's pray to God, on Christmas Day, and thank Him for sending Jesus.

May each of you have a truly Blessed and joyous Christmas.

If you died today, are you absolutely certain that you would go to heaven? You can be! TRUST JESUS NOW

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