As November turns to December, the long wait for Christmas feels almost over. But let’s slow down together for a minute. Before we trim the tree and start wrapping gifts, let’s pause to consider the season that comes before Christmas. The Advent season is just about to begin.
Maybe you have an Advent calendar hanging in your house already. Perhaps your family has special ways of counting down the days of December, but Advent is so much more than a countdown. In a season where everything is merry, bright, and BUSY, Advent invites us to downshift, to tell our hearts to walk as slowly toward Christmas morning as Mary must have as she and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem.
A Worthy Church Tradition
We don’t find the word “Advent” anywhere in the Bible. It isn’t an event commanded by God, but it is an important part of Church tradition. Since it began in Spain in the fourth century, Advent has been a time of preparation. Throughout Church history, the goal of the Advent season has been two-fold:
Remember and anticipate.
First, we take the time to remember all that Christ has done. We consider His parents, Mary and Joseph. We think about the fact that though He made everything, He chose to be born with nothing. We remember the shepherds, the magi, the angels . . .
These elements of the Christmas story can become so familiar that we gloss right over them. Advent invites us to pause and remember the unremarkable details of this remarkable story.
Then, we anticipate. Advent is a season of expectation. As Mary waited for her miracle baby to be born and the wise men waited for the star to lead them to the King, we wait—eagerly, expectantly. Yes, we wait for Christmas morning, but we also look beyond that. Advent helps us remember that Christ has come before and Christ is coming again. As we remember His first coming, we anticipate the moment when He will come back for us.
I think of Advent as a long on-ramp to wonder. We can get to Christmas morning with eyes wide open and hearts full of amazement over what Christ has done for us, but we need a little practice first.
How Will You Celebrate?
Advent is marked by the four Sundays before Christmas. It begins this very Sunday, December 3rd. Here are some ideas for how you can celebrate.
- Join an online Advent study such as this one at SheReadsTruth.com or listen to sermons about Advent online like these at adventconspiracy.org.
- Create an Advent wreath with candles. You’ll need four candles, one for each Sunday of Advent. Beginning this Sunday, gather with your family and light one candle each week, reading a segment of the Christmas story from God’s Word each time.
- Make a prayer chain. There are twenty-two days in the Advent season this year. Dig out some construction paper, scissors, tape, and markers, and make a paper chain. On half of the strips of paper write what Christ has already done for you (examples: He came to earth as a baby; He died for my sins). On half of the strips write promises God has made that you are eager to see come true (examples: He will heal all my diseases; He will return for me). Loop your chain so that the accomplished works of Christ are first and His promises are second. Each day remove a link and consider what you wrote. Remember what Christ has already done and anticipate all that is to come.
- Read through these Christmas in Reverse posts from our archives. They’re jam packed with God’s truth. We’ve included the links below for easy access.
- Find your own way! How you choose to celebrate Advent doesn’t matter as much as whether you will slow down and take the time to remember all Christ has done for you and anticipate all that is to come. We’d love to hear your ideas for celebrating Advent this year. Tell us about them in the comment section below!