If you saw my post about Advent studies and are wondering what the term “advent” means, or if you thought advent was just about feasts or purple and pink candles, I encourage you to keep reading!
Put simply, Advent is a time to prepare for celebrating Christmas, which commemorates Jesus’ birth, as well as prepare for the second coming of Christ. It begins the fourth Sunday before Christmas and ends on Christmas Eve. Each week has a theme – Hope, Peace, Love and Joy.
Understandably, sometimes we are skeptical of manmade celebrations, wondering if it is biblical to partake in such festivities. Please understand when I refer to Advent, I am referring to the most basic meaning of the term – coming. For me, to celebrate Advent means to remember that Christ came into this world as a dependent baby who lived and grew as fully human, experiencing the same joys, celebrations, trials, and suffering that I experience; and ultimately died on a cross for my sin. It also means that I as I reflect on the life of Christ and how he conquered death, I wait expectantly for him to come again to fix all the sin and brokenness of the world once and for all. It is a time to slow down and focus on what Christ did, and what he will do. It is celebrating the fact that he came to this earth to bring hope, peace, love and joy and looking forward to when he will come back and make those things eternal for those who believe in him. It is not about feasts, calendars with treats, or lighting certain candles. (Although, these things in and of themselves are not necessarily bad, if they point your heart towards Jesus.)
When we look at Advent in this way, it should be something we celebrate throughout the year, not just around Christmas time. In fact, it is what we are doing when we participate in the Lord’s Supper and remember the sacrifice Jesus made and proclaim his death until he returns. You may be wondering, “so why the emphasis on celebrating Advent at Christmas time?” And here’s my answer- because we are at war. Immediately after Halloween, we see our culture shift gears to Christmas. The consumerism and marketing of Christmas distract us from the true meaning of the holiday. By busying ourselves with gift-buying, cookie-making, and even bell-ringing, Satan is winning. He gets the upper hand when we focus our energy on Christmas to-do’s instead of Christmas’s Who. Culture says holidays about YOU – your enjoyment, indulgence and what you receive. Advent celebrates CHRIST – his birth, life, and promise to return to fulfill his eternal promise to us.
By choosing to celebrate Advent, we take some time to slow down and reflect on what is important and why we even celebrate Christmas in the first place. We use it as a season to prepare our hearts to celebrate Christ. It allows us to meditate on who Christ is and what he did so that we can enter the Christmas holiday with clear minds and hearts that haven’t been muddled by what our culture says the holidays should look like.
Take some time to read the article linked below if you are interested in the history of Advent.