Depending on your tradition, Advent may not be a season you’re quite familiar with. Maybe you’ve heard the term thrown around, or perhaps you’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.
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.
- November 29 – Hope
- December 6 – Peace
- December 13 – Joy
- December 20 – Love
Here are a couple of suggested resources to help you in your personal observation of Advent during this month.
This Advent reading plan and practices are available in the YouVersion app. It’s called Practices of Advent (from Blackhawk Church.) You can also download and print the reading plan to keep in your Bible.
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.
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.
We hope these resources will be helpful to you as you remember, prepare, and celebrate this season!