Christmas was always special to me growing up. It didn’t matter how awful my year was or what I was going through, there was some joy in the air.
There was such a palpable, real holiness to the season that I could feel. The magic in the lights and the tree, the coziness of a fire and stockings.
No matter how cold the wind is or how dark the night, there’s a warmth we are invited into in the Christmas season that has always truly been there… because its the Light of the world beckoning us.
I learned about the season of Advent as an adult. If you, like me, didn’t grow up familiar with Advent, here’s a quick synopsis.
In the liturgical Christian calendar, it is the feast that begins four Sundays before Christmas, ending on Christmas Eve. Christmas Eve begins the 12 day Christmas season.
One catechism describes Advent spirituality beautifully: “When the Church celebrates the liturgy of Advent each year, she makes present this ancient expectancy of the Messiah, for by sharing in the long preparation for the Savior’s first coming, the faithful renew their ardent desire for his second coming. By celebrating the precursor’s birth and martyrdom, the Church unites herself to his desire: ‘He must increase, but I must decrease.’”Christianity.com
(You can read more of the interesting background and what it looks like today on https://www.christianity.com/christian-life/christmas/what-is-advent.html)
Advent is meant to get us ready, not for a present-opening party, but for a transformational celebration of the birth of Jesus. It is a season of expectation.
In the years before Christ, the people on earth were yearning for a savior; the Jews waiting for their promised Messiah. Every human ached for Him, whether they realized it or not.
Advent comes from the Latin word adventus, which means “coming.” Its a celebration of the anticipation felt then for the coming of the Savior and the anticipation we feel now for His return, for our home, reminiscing how much we needed Him to come and still need Him now.
Christmas is the celebration of His birth, but Advent is preparing our hearts for that very celebration, yearning and hoping and taking comfort in His peace no matter the darkness of the world.
When I discovered Advent a few years ago I was in a really dark place. I could feel Jesus beckoning me into this space of desiring Him and yearning for Him, while creation groaned for Him it was as if a lightbulb went off in my heart. My soul was groaning for Him too.
Ever since then its been a really special, tender time of year I look forward to; while we should always seek His face, it was a time specifically set aside to dive in deeper. It became a time to settle in and focus on Him more diligently in this season rather than get wrapped up in the stress of family gatherings and present buying.
While preparing for a youth lesson a few years ago, I was reading a blog written by a reverend who had also grown up without Advent – He only discovered it as an adult in Theological Seminary when his professor gave a lecture on worship and the beauty of the Church Year like Advent, Christmas, Holy Week, Pentecost etc.
The professor was excitedly talking about how the seasons of the Church Year could enrich the worship of a church as well as a person’s own private devotions. The reverend had never heard of this growing up and, much like me, decided to explore Advent as a personal devotion time with the Lord.
He came to love Advent because he found that observing Advent enriched his celebration of Christmas. Rather than a materialistic holiday, he was finally experiencing the spiritual depth of the season in his closeness with the Lord and celebrating His coming to rescue us.
For so long after Adam, the world lived in such brokenness. Humans tried to fix the pain and emptiness but it wasn’t the actions of men that would bring relief and change.
The world waited.
In Advent we don’t just anticipate the coming Savior, but the “making new” creation has longed for since the fall.
God always had a rescue plan, and it all began with the birth of His son. The One who would bring order, make things new, heal and restore us.
The One who pull us from brokenness into wholeness.
“For just as through one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so also through the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous” (Romans 5:19).
Each Sunday in Advent has a theme and the first Sunday of Advent is Hope. The hope and longing our ancestors felt waiting for the coming of Christ, the hope we can feel in knowing He has us, even now.
The dictionary definition of hope is a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen, or, a feeling of trust.
Biblically hope is the confident expectation of what God has promised.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you – 1 Peter 1:3-4
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. – Romans 15:13
Hope can be scary sometimes, have you ever been afraid to hope for something? Afraid to put your faith in something and it not come to pass? I know that I have.
Jesus is a safe bet for your hope.
We can hope for things and situations to go a certain way but know that when you hope for Him, you are not putting your faith into an empty impossibility. He will come through. He will meet you there.
Challenge: Take time this week to meet with Jesus. Give Him your hopes and dreams and place your hope in Him. He wants you to come close to Him this season, so think about ways you can make time with Him a priority. Hope for wild things with Him, dream with Him about how you want to grow and what you want your relationship with Him to look like! Look up some verses on hope this week to meditate on.
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. – Romans 12:12
Affliction comes in this world but like this verse says we can be joyful in hope, because our hope isn’t in this world and the people in it. Our hope is in the Light that overcame the darkness.