What Is Advent?
Holiday music is playing in the stores. Newspapers land on doorsteps swollen to twice their normal size because of ads. Boxes are pulled from attics and garages with adornments for the home. Special treats are prepared. Money is being spent on gifts that are needed or not. And your email inbox and phone are filled with alerts to “Not Miss This Deal!”
The Christmas season is upon us.
The period of preparation in the liturgical church is called Advent. So what is it?
The word advent comes from two Latin words: ad (to) and vent (come). Advent is a noun that means, “the arrival of a notable person, thing or event.” For example, we might refer to the advent of the Internet.
Advent is a season that leads up to Christmas when Christ-followers remember the coming of Jesus Christ when God became human.
The reason for Advent in the Christian church calendar is to prepare for the coming of Christ. But it has more than one purpose. While most may think it refers to the first coming of Christ in human form (with images of the little baby in a manger), it also refers to the continuing coming of the universal Christ that is manifest moment-by-moment. Advent is a great time to reflect on essential universal truths, priorities, generosity, love and all that is good in the universe.
Advent begins on the Sunday closest to November 30th and is celebrated during the four weeks leading to Christmas. It is often marked with special readings, prayers, and candles. A popular European tradition is to mark each day with a special Advent calendar containing little windows or boxes that hold bible verses or surprises.
Second-best is to be distracted from the best. Madison Avenue, your local big box stores and the Intenet world want your business. They have dressed up their windows, filled them with glittery stuff, and enticed you through bargains. These are second-best.
Consider going against the culture by reclaiming the best—the spiritual and more real reason for the season—not the counterfeited, hijacked version. Consider Advent (now through Christmas) as a time to reflect on the reality of God in your own life. Prepare your heart for the comings of Christ.
What are some practical things you could do? Read a timely book? Follow an Advent devotional? Engage in family devotionals and discussions? Spend extra time in self-reflection?
Advent is, after all, “the arrival of a notable person, thing or event.”