Depending on your tradition, Advent may not be a season we’re quite familiar with. Maybe we’ve heard the term thrown around, or perhaps we’ve even been in Sunday services where Advent candles have been lit. But what is it exactly? And how can it become a meaningful tradition in our lives?
The word Advent originates from the Latin word adventus, which means “coming” or “arrival.” During the 4 weeks leading up to Christmas, we remember God’s faithfulness through the birth of Jesus. We also anticipate and celebrate the hope of Christ’s promised return.
Advent begins with remembering God’s faithfulness. For hundreds of years, God promised a Messiah. He fulfilled His promise more than 2000 years ago through the birth of our King and Savior, Jesus. Jesus’ birth was the beginning of a new era.
As we remember God’s faithfulness through the birth of Jesus, we might begin remembering other ways that God has shown His faithfulness to us in our daily lives.
He is faithful to provide our daily bread.
He is faithful to extend grace and forgiveness.
He is faithful to be present with us through difficult times.
During Advent we remember Christ’s presence with us here and now, and we’re encouraged to reflect on how that affects the way we live.
As December 25 draws nearer, we can spend time in preparation. Just as we spend time preparing for visitors in our home before they arrive, so we can prepare our hearts for the celebration of Jesus.
- Are there proverbial closets we need to declutter in our inner lives?
- Are there rooms God is inviting us to open up and air out?
- Are there people who need to join us in our preparations?
In addition to remembering God’s faithfulness and preparing our hearts for the celebration of Jesus’ birth, Advent also anticipates Jesus’ promised return, when He will make all things whole.
Struggle is a common thread that’s woven through the human experience. Anxiety and depression plague us. We suffer from loneliness, heartache, and grief. Many of us carry around deeply held hopes and desires, and we’re not quite sure if they will ever be realized.
During Advent we acknowledge the tension we live in–Jesus has already come and destroyed the power of death and sin, yet we are still waiting for His return to make all things new. But our waiting is not aimless! In the midst of life’s struggles, we wait with hope and expectancy.
Remembering God’s faithfulness, preparing our hearts, and celebrating hope– these are lofty goals that can get pushed aside (despite our best intentions!) during the busyness of this season. We know the feeling, and we want to help. Here are a couple of suggested resources to help you in your personal observation of Advent during the week.
This devotional begins at the end of January and carries through to the end of the Christmas season. Each day the reader gets to read the words from a different author. We like this devotional because it introduces readers to a variety of authors and perspectives.
In this curated compilation of sermons and letters, Dietrich Bonhoeffer walks readers through the Advent and Christmas season, touching on the themes of waiting, preparation, mystery, and redemption.
Bobby Gross invites us to learn about and participate in the Christian liturgical year. The first section of this book is devoted to practicing Advent, Christmas, and the Epiphany.
Biola University’s Center for Christianity, Culture, and the Arts offers a daily Advent devotional experience that mixes together art, music, and written text. Visit the website each day or sign up via email to receive a daily devotional.
Enjoy this collection of Advent songs from artists such as Page CXVI, Sufjan Stevens, and Penny and Sparrow. If you like this one, Sacred Ordinary Days also has a Christmas playlist.
These 2 volumes by The Brilliance are filled with songs that are designed to help you connect to God through the Advent season.
We hope these resources will be helpful to you as you remember, prepare, and celebrate this season!