Advent comes from the Latin word: Adventus, meaning “the coming” or “the arrival”. It is a season of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the incarnation, the nativity...Christmas.
By the 4th Century AD, the Advent season was kept as a period of fasting. We often think of Lent as the season of fasting (before Easter) but the early church also kept an Advent fast just as diligently. Two forty day periods of fasting in a year... someone should start The Christian Calendar Diet. Might be on to something.
Ultimately, Advent is about anticipation. It is the time when Christians look back at the first coming of Jesus and look forward to His second coming.
The four weeks leading up to Christmas are a focused and swelling anticipation of Jesus’ first arrival from an enthroned member of the Trinity in the heights of heaven to a dirty barn in a stone feeding trough. And in turn, it should also be a season that fuels our longing and expectancy for His second arrival.
Why do we provide Advent Guides and emphasize the Four Sundays of Advent at Central? Simply because we see the benefit of Advent in helping busy, distracted people like us, in a hectic and sometimes frantic time of year, prepare Him room.
Advent is often seen as a mere countdown to Christmas (or is skipped entirely). Christmas decorating isn’t so much about beginning a season of Advent, it's a long drawn out celebration of Christmas.
Christmas is a season of triumph and joy, Emmanuel, God with us (Matt 1:23) when the Word became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14). Advent, on the other hand, is the experience of waiting for the Christ (and waiting together as believers for the second coming of Jesus). It's the fast that makes the feast taste even better.
The beauty of Advent, that I am discovering, is the waiting period—the longing—the recognition that things aren’t the way they are supposed to be here (war, oppression, poverty, hunger, etc.), that wrongs need to be made right, that things need to be made new. So we reflect at this time, at all of the injustice in the world and say with John the Apostle, “Come Lord Jesus, come”.
As Pastor Tyson and I craft our Advent services we are discovering that there are two distinct halves in Advent. The first is a more reflective and even somber time of repentance. We are sinners. Jesus had to come. We are a desperate people. The second sets our sights on the redemption that is found in Jesus, that sins can be forgiven in Christ, and therefore, our sense of celebratory praise grows as Christmas approaches.
"Advent renews in the people of God a longing for Christ’s return."
When Christmas arrives it is pure celebration of the fact that Christ has come and the knowledge that He is coming again.
And knowing my own heart, my celebration will be far more rich for walking through the season of Advent and acknowledging afresh that I desperately need Him to come.
If Jesus had not come, we could not be saved. Praise God for the incarnation! Praise Jesus for coming to save! Lets make the most of this Advent season, to "let every heart prepare Him room".
Join us for our Advent Services (Dec 3-Dec 24) and our Prince Of Peace sermon series.
Join us for our Christmas Eve Services
Chilliwack: 3:30 & 5 PM
Agassiz: 5 PM
Promontory: 5 PM
Make use of our Advent Guide individually and/or as a family.
This post has been slightly adapted from an earlier post called Advent 101, November 30, 2016.