Recently the church has entered into the time of celebration known as Advent. I grew up as a Protestant and frankly Advent was never something that we celebrated. It was introduced to me a couple of years ago by some good friends of mine in College and I began to celebrate with their family as Christmas day grew closer. Since I am still new to Advent I might not understand completely every aspect of it but I love what it means and hope to introduce it to you as well.
Before we fully dive into the topic, I want to encourage you to take a moment to read this prayer from an Advent book. Feel free to pray through it yourself, or if you are uncomfortable with that, just read the words and take in their meaning:
“We welcome you, small child of Bethlehem, whose coming we await with quiet attention. Shield us from the shouts, the screams, the empty promises of the season, and encourage us to turn our hopes to your coming. We know that the promise is hidden in the stable in Bethlehem and rooted in the offspring of Jesse; let us look for our salvation there. Amen.”
See within this prayer the purpose of this Advent season. We await with hope and with joy the coming Savior. In a world that is broken and messy, we find hope. I think we can all agree that 2016 has been a fairly dismal year. The election, the pain in the eyes of refugees, divorce, the reality of war, terrorism, death, stress, sickness, economic crises, fear for the future, confusion, and so much more just adds to our exhaustion. In addition, this is the Christmas season, commercialization has gone wild and some have nowhere to go this holiday season. I start to sound more like Charlie Brown every year, “Isn’t there anyone who can tell me what Christmas is all about?” It has to be more than the best deals, gifts, and finding the best tree. Instead, as pilgrims in anticipation, we look ahead to the coming of Christ. Some days I can’t bring myself to sing because it is too painful but even on those hardest days, I remember who came and who is coming.
Advent is to live a life filled with anticipation. Normally, there are guides through which one can work. They involve a short message, a Bible passage, a prayer, and an application for your daily life this Advent season. Each day involves something different, for example “Looking for a small sign that God is present in my daily life.” The overall theme though is anticipation for what is to come. Remember last week how we discussed what it means to be a pilgrim? To be a pilgrim and to anticipate go hand in hand. Look at the wise men, they went to Bethlehem on a journey and were filled with anticipation for what was to come as they journeyed. Let’s journey in anticipation this Advent season.
I hope that as we go about this time of Advent, we can truly sing, “O Come O Come Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel.”I think that embracing Advent is important for us as Christ followers, not because it makes us holy but because it places us in the right mindset for this Advent season. Whatever your political leaning, national identity, sexuality, pain, sin, economic status, etc. You can come and celebrate with anticipation the coming of Christ.
If you are interested in working through an Advent series, I would highly recommend reading “Advent and Christmas: Wisdom from Henri J. M. Nouwen” That is the book from which I posted the previous prayer.
Here are also some quick facts and history of Advent if you are interested.
Thanks for discussing Advent with me. I would love to hear your thoughts on Advent and how you celebrate in anticipation. Next week we will discuss Lectio Divina.
Be filled with anticipation,