“When can we open our presents?” my eight-year old daughter asked. “Only seven more sleeps,” I said. I’d been teaching my children to be patient through a special ‘finding the baby Jesus’ hide and seek game we played each morning before I sent them off to school. They were looking forward to opening their gifts and daily anticipated the arrival of Jesus’ birthday.
Maybe you, too, are looking forward to something, as you await the arrival of company to join in your holiday festivities, school to be on break or to unwrap presents placed under the Christmas tree.
As believers, we wait and watch for the arrival of celebrating the date of a man who came to earth more than two thousand years ago. Jesus Christ came to earth and changed everything. But why focus on waiting for someone who has already come? So glad you asked.
Advent means arrival or coming from the Latin word adventus with the idea of waiting and watching for the arrival of something or someone. The Greek word is paraousia which means second coming of Christ. First, as we remember the waiting that took place before Jesus arrived, we can identify with the impact He made on those living during that time and allow those events to influence us today. Second, Jesus will come again.
As we set December aside for remembering, we invite God to prepare us spiritually for the second coming of Jesus. And yes, the holiday season is about each of those activities but it can be so much more. I challenge you to set aside time this season to practice Advent.
Advent represents the coming or arrival of Jesus in three ways:
Commemorating His birth and walk as man and Savior.
Celebrating His presence in us now through the Holy Spirit.
Preparation for His return as judge.
There are numerous ways to incorporate Advent into our Christmas traditions. There are several to consider, and as in any tradition, these may take time to implement. The key for our family was that we understood the meaning behind Advent. Advent is a time of prayer, commemoration, celebration, and preparation.
Advent is the beginning of the Christian liturgical year and is commemorated on the four Sundays before Christmas, running through Christmas Eve, followed by the twelve days of Christmas 12/25 – 1/5 (the journey of the Magi to the baby Jesus) and Epiphany 1/6 (the celebration feast of the revelation of God the Son as a human being in Jesus Christ, the visit of the Magi, Jesus’ baptism, and the wedding at Cana). Common practices during this season include Advent calendars, singing daily devotionals, fasting, wreaths, candle lighting and Scripture reading from the Old Testament. The four Advent candles are lit one each Sunday of Advent and the fifth on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.
One of my favorite ways of celebrating the first week of Advent, is to sing “O come, O come Emmanuel” and read selected scriptures such as Romans 8:19-21, Psalm 88, Psalm 13, Genesis 6:5-18, Isaiah 66, Psalm 16, Revelation 21:1-7, Zephaniah 3:14-20. These are a few favorite Scriptures, you might find helpful in your preparation.
Also, I’ve included below, an Advent Wreath idea and an Advent e-book. Regardless of what you decide to do, I pray you, too will ambitiously anticipate Advent. I hope you will join me in preparing our hearts for Christmas. Abide in hope, peace, joy, Love as we welcome Jesus Christ, the Baby Jesus. I am praying for you – Sheryl