The church which I grew up in lit candles in an advent wreath, but I was never too sure why, and until the past few years, that was the extent of my knowledge of Advent.
I’ve since learned (and written of, in the past) a little more about the Advent Season, but most of what I know can be wrapped up in a throwaway line from my favorite columnist, Mollie Hemingway, “Advent is for preparation. Christmas is for partying.”
Sunday, November 27th, marked the beginning of the Season of Advent.
Last year, I invited you to prepare alongside myself, by reading John Piper’s free Ebook of daily readings, the Dawning of Indestructible Joy.
This year, firstly because I trust John Piper’s handling of the scripture, and secondly because I’m a little Dutch and it’s free, my family and I will be going through another Piper book of daily Advent Readings, “Good News of Great Joy,” and I again invite you to join me as an act of preparation.
In my own preparation for the celebration of Christ’s birth, I hope to use this space occasionally for some thoughts on the season and it’s reason, and on this – the first week of advent – here’s my first thought.
It really doesn’t feel like Christmas.
In Michigan, as I write, it’s uncharacteristically warm, the sky is blue, and the trees and grass are brown.
We’ve been listening to Christmas music in the car and it just doesn’t feel quite right. Our city park has Christmas decorations of children sledding down a grassy hill. The transmission just went out on my vehicle and that doesn’t feel like a very good Christmas present.
But even though it doesn’t feel like it, I know that Christmas is only a few weeks away.
Ryan Reeves recently delved into the history of Advent at The Gospel Coalition,“Unlike modern Advent ceremonies, most celebrations of Advent in history had a twin focus. The Latin word adventus was the translation of the Greek parousia—a word used for both the coming of Christ in human flesh and his Second Coming. Advent, then, always tended to focus on both.”
If you’re experiencing the same lack of Christmas spirit that I am as we enter the advent season then, let’s compare that to our anticipation of the return of Christ.
Again, if you’re like me, you know it’s coming, you know it will be amazing and you want to be excited for it, but right now, there’s just so much happening in the world and in your personal life that it’s hard to focus on the future.
Hebrews 9:28 says, “Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.”
Think of how a child waits for Christmas, would you call that eager? Is that how we are awaiting Christ’s coming?
Maybe you’re not feeling Scroogish like me and you’re walking around the house with bells on your elf slippers, baking sugar cookies, and singing along to Bing Crosby. Does your eagerness for the Christmas season eclipse your excitement for our Savior’s return?
This advent season is an opportunity not just to build anticipation for Christmas, but to remind ourselves where our hope lies, and how great a hope it is.
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