We didn't participate in Advent as a little girl. Then, in my teen years, we moved our membership to a church in town and they celebrated Advent. Which basically meant for the four weeks leading up to Christmas, different church families would read scripted words or verses in front of the congregation before lighting a candle on an Advent wreath.
At the Christmas Eve service, the final candle was lit, along with a sanctuary full of single candles held by those in attendance. And if you didn’t sing Silent Night at said service, I’m not sure you really had one. Isn’t that in the Bible somewhere?
It wasn’t until adulthood I began to wonder what this season before Christmas actually meant. Where did it fit into the church calendar year? What was this Advent all about anyway?
Advent - An arrival or coming, especially one which is awaited.
The more I reflected on this season, the more I learned about it, I determined to make it a significant part of my own Christian calendar. Advent allows me to embrace the hope of Christ weeks before Christmas Day.
Each year, Advent helps us remember the first coming.
I think any holiday worth celebrating should last more than just one day. Apparently, the church agrees with me. Advent gives us a whole month to celebrate the birth of our Savior. Through the daily and weekly reminders, our anticipation increases. Come Christmas morning, our hearts are singing. We come prepared.
Our church also participates in the tradition of different families reading and lighting a candle. Watching the little children participate and read God’s Word undoes me every time.
At home, we have a wooden advent tree that helps us include our whole family in Advent season. Each night, we read a portion of the Christmas story and our daughter gets a small gift from the wooden tree drawers. Simple. Remembering.
We started this tradition when Allie was a toddler. I wanted to present the biblical accounts in a simple way she could understand. So, I created a script that gives a single detail of the story every day leading up to Christmas. You can download it here and use it yourself if you’d like. Again, it’s nothing fancy. But I wanted her to start treasuring every detail of the story.
Last year, Ann Voskamp came out with her book, The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas. Starting December 1st, this devotional walks readers through the whole of God’s salvation plan. A plan God has always, always had in mind. What a gift indeed! This book helped prepare my heart a bit more every day. I plan to use it again this season.
Advent also reminds us to anticipate the second coming.
As believers, we live all of our lives anticipating an Advent. That glorious day when Jesus Christ returns to earth! We don’t think about it every day. But again, we can use this season to remember the Messiah’s first coming and hoping for His final return.
This season, as we unravel the lessons God would have us to learn from #Ferguson, my soul especially longs for Advent. When what our souls already know, that things here aren’t right, comes bubbling to the surface. For some, when it boils over.
We need Advent.
A reminder that he has come.
Anticipation that He will come again and make all things new.
Indeed, our Bible ends with words of Advent:
Amen! Come Lord Jesus! Revelation 22:20 (NLT)