Every year, it’s the same ol’ thing: Before Halloween, stores are already setting out Christmas products. Before Thanksgiving has come and gone, the streets lights are draped in evergreen. We have been thoroughly inundated with Christmas long before it ever comes close. Before we even have the chance to carve into the turkey and share our list of things we are grateful for, we’re making a wish list for the things we don’t already have. Christmas comes at us so fast and hard that it’s all too easy for us to miss these four wonderful weeks of Advent.
So… What is Advent? That might be the question you are asking right now, and it is indeed a fair question. The word “Advent” itself comes from the Latin adventus, which means “coming”. We are literally waiting on something to come in these weeks leading up to Christmas Day. Specifically, what we are waiting on is two-fold: First, we are waiting to celebrate the birth of Christ; and secondly, we are waiting for Christ to return in final victory.
When we already have something, it can be easy to take it for granted. That is the trap we are all in the danger of falling into as modern Christians. For 2000 years we have known a world in which Jesus Christ’s presence is recorded, known, and experienced. So, when the rest of the world around begins to prepare themselves for the secular aspects of Christmas, we run the risk of forgetting to prepare ourselves for the much deeper spiritual aspects. That’s why we have Advent. We remind ourselves that we are waiting for something that cannot be wrapped up in ribbons and shiny paper. We are waiting for something that will last longer than the twinkling lights that delight the little kid in each of us. We are waiting for something that gives us a profound sense of purpose and hope.
Every Advent is an adventure. When we begin, we have a pretty good idea of where we want to end up… but it will ultimately be the experiences we share along the way that make the real the difference. So, don’t rush headfirst into Christmas without taking a moment to gaze up at the stars and wonder what it was like for those wise men who first saw the star. Take a moment to sing “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” and think about what the shepherd’s must have felt like when that heaven’s chorus lit up the sky. Take a moment to look at the beautiful and innocent face of a child, and think about all the things that Mary had pondered in her own heart about the little baby she held against her breast in the manger. And take a moment to think about that glorious and victorious moment when Christ will return.
This is truly a season of awe and inspiration. Let the wonders of the Advent season work its wonders on you so that you might reach Christmas Day with a heart wide open.
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