It's that time of year again when Christians all over the world gear up for the season of Advent. If you're new to the term, don't worry! We will help you understand Advent, why Christians celebrate it, and how to make the most of this powerful season.
So, what is Advent?
Advent, which comes from the Latin word "adventus," means "coming" or "arrival." It's a season that typically lasts four weeks before Christmas, preparing us for the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.
In one sense, it's like a spiritual countdown to the big day. But, it's not just about ticking off days on a calendar. The Advent season is filled with significance and meaning. It's a chance for us to reflect, hope, and grow in our faith.
Advent is a poignant reminder that life is full of waiting through painful seasons. Just as the world once waited for the promised Messiah, we, too, find ourselves in periods of anticipation, longing, and uncertainty.
In these challenging times, Advent teaches us (just as it has for thousands of believers before us) the value of patience, hope, and faith. It's a season that encourages us to hold on to our faith in Christ Jesus that, even in the darkest of moments, we have the victory over the troubles of this world in Him. Advent prepares us to celebrate His birth.
By learning from the experiences of Mary and Joseph, we gain the strength to face our own challenges and keep going. Their stories inspire us to keep moving forward in difficult times. Advent comforts us in the waiting that redemption and celebration are not far away. All we have to do it see how the arrival of Christ brought hope and salvation to the world and remember that He is coming again!
Now, why do we Christians celebrate Advent?
Well, Advent serves multiple purposes. Firstly, it harkens back to the anticipation of the Messiah in the Old Testament. Throughout history, people waited for God's promised Savior. Advent helps us step into their shoes and experience that longing and hope firsthand.
Secondly, Advent directs our focus away from the commercial frenzy that often surrounds Christmas. It's easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of buying presents and attending parties.
- Advent encourages us to pause and reflect on the true reason for the season - the birth of Jesus Christ.
It's a time to remember the ultimate gift God gave humanity. It's the season for us to re-center our lives around Him and His example of love, compassion, and humility.
How do we make the most of the Advent season spiritually?
Here are some practical tips to keep it real and meaningful:
- Reflect on the Nativity Story: Read the Nativity story from the Gospels of Matthew and Luke (See Matthew 1:18-2:23 and Luke 2:1-20). Mull over the events surrounding Jesus' birth and the people God used — Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, the Magi, etc. Let their stories inspire you. Ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you as He spoke to them... words of hope, comfort, and joy.
- Advent Wreath: Consider setting up an Advent wreath at home. It's a circle of greenery with four candles (three purple and one pink), each representing different aspects of the season. Light a candle each week and take a moment to meditate on themes like hope, love, joy, and peace. It's a great way to focus on Jesus amidst the holiday chaos.
- Read Advent devotionals. Sign up to get free devotions from Devotionals Daily! Enjoy reading plans that you can follow throughout the season. There are plenty of resources available online, and many churches offer booklets or apps for this purpose. Spend a few minutes each day reading and reflecting on the significance of the incarnation of Christ.
- Prayer and Meditation: Take time to pray and meditate during Advent. It doesn't have to be complicated or formal - just speak to God from your heart and listen for His guidance. Meditating on the gift of Jesus can help you find peace and clarity amidst the holiday chaos.
- Acts of Kindness: Advent is not just about introspection but also about reaching out to others. Use this season to perform random acts of kindness - whether it's donating to a charity, volunteering at a shelter, or simply offering a listening ear to someone in need. Spread the love and joy that the Christmas season is all about.
- Christmas Music with a Twist: Sure, you can enjoy all the jingle bells and catchy tunes, but try incorporating some reflective and spiritually uplifting Christmas music into your playlist. Listen to hymns or songs that remind you of the deeper meaning of Christmas.
- Advent Calendar with Scriptures: Swap out the typical chocolate Advent calendar for one with daily Bible verses or messages. It's a fun way to keep the spiritual aspect of Advent at the forefront of your mind each day.
- If you're in a season of grief or waiting, attend a Blue Christmas service. These services focus on waiting on Jesus through bereavement and longing.
Remember, Advent isn't about perfection or doing everything perfectly. It's about opening your heart to God's presence and letting His love shine through you. Embrace the season with anticipation, and you'll find that Advent will draw you close to Jesus and enrich your walk with Him.
Take it one step at a time, and enjoy the journey toward Christmas with a sense of wonder and gratitude. May this Advent season bring you closer to God and fill your heart with peace and love!