It amazes me how we pivot straight from giving thanks to grabbing things without a second thought.
The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is stuffed with demands on your time and attention: decorating the house, shopping for presents, spending time with family, friends, and random people from work.
New Year’s Eve comes, and you’re so exhausted you fall asleep as night falls, waking up just in time to say, “Happy New Year!,” kiss your wife and kids, roll over and fall back asleep.
What a way to start the New Year—depleted, exhausted, running on fumes. I’m here to offer a better way.
Let me introduce you to Advent.
Advent, like Lent, is a season of preparation. And, similar to those 40 days before Easter, Advent is shrouded in mystery and confusion. What does it mean? What do we do? Why should I care?
The word “advent” means coming or arrival. The early church used this time to celebrate the arrival of Jesus, and anticipate His return at the Second Coming. Advent is marked by a spirit of expectation, preparation, and longing. We experience the tension of the now and not yet. Jesus is Emmanuel, here with us, but we also yearn for his return.
Advent season has been celebrated in a variety of ways over the centuries. Fasting and solemnness dominated this time in the past, serving as a reminder of the darkness experienced before the coming of Jesus. More recently, many churches moved away from these traditions, but one practice remains common today: the advent wreath.
The branches that compose the advent wreath were originally a combination of fir, laurel, and holly. This portion is referred to as the crown, which symbolizes victory and looks to Christ as King. The fir represents strength; laurel, victory; and holly, the crown of thorns. The evergreen quality of these branches also remind us of the eternity of God.
Around the wreath are four candles, which are lit, one at a time, each Sunday of the Advent season. This year, the first Sunday of Advent is December 3rd. This sacred season closes on Sunday, December 24th.
Each candle represents a different theme for us to meditate on that week. The first Sunday, we will focus on hope. Our Bible reading will look to some of the Old Testament prophecies that predicted the coming of the Messiah. We will also find passages that anticipate Christ’ return in the New Testament.
God's promises are the foundation of our faith and our hope. We celebrate His fulfillment of the original promises culminating in the birth of Jesus. We believe the promises Jesus made regarding His return.
We have spent the past few weeks looking at the spiritual disciplines of submission, solitude, worship, and celebration. The Advent season provides us the opportunity to put all of these practices together to resist the grip of the spirit of this age. The temptation is to do more, buy more, go more.
Advent invites to you the more—a closer, more intimate relationship with the Maker of the Promises and Planner of the world, this season, and your life. Won’t you join me on this walk?
Over the next week, read these and ponder on the promise fulfilled and the one yet to come.
Sunday (12/3) - Genesis 3:15, Matthew 24:30
Monday (12/4) - Psalm 110:1-4, Mark 13:26
Tuesday (12/5) - Isaiah 7:10-14, Luke 12:40
Wednesday (12/6) - Isaiah 9:1-7, Luke 21:27
Thursday (12/7) - Jeremiah 31:31-35, Acts 1:10-11
Friday (12/7) - Daniel 2:44, Revelation 1:7-8
Saturday (12/8) - Micah 5:2, Revelation 16:15
"Father, during the Advent season may we be reminded of your promises to us and your fulfillment of them. Help us to prepare our lives for His Advent within us. In the precious name of Jesus we pray. Amen."
Music to meditate on:
For further study about Advent: Advent is a season with a long history and depth of meaning. I put together information from many websites: