What is Advent? We see the proliferation of advent calendars at the stores at Christmas time, normally involving chocolate, or perhaps cheese or even wine. Commercially it is looked at as a countdown to Christmas, with most calendars beginning on Dec 1st and Ending on Dec 24th. The true meaning of Advent and its origins is actually more spiritual than chocolate candies.
Advent is derived from the Latin “adventus” which means “coming.” This is a translation of the Greek word “Parousia” which is usually used, in theology, to reference Christ’s second coming. Advent originally had little to do with Christmas but was thought by scholars to be a 40-day period of fasting and penance leading to new Christian baptisms for the Feast of Epiphany. It is believed by the 6th century that Advent had been tied to preparation and anticipation of Christ’s second coming by the Roman Catholic Church. It was not until the middle ages that Advent was linked to Christ’s first coming and birth.
Advent stretches across the 4 Sundays prior to Christmas. During this time, we, as the Church, look back at Christ’s birth and His first coming, while also looking ahead to Christ’s second coming, and the redemption and peace that will be brought to earth. The first two Sundays are dedicated to looking ahead to Christ’s triumphant return, while the last two Sundays are dedicated to remembering His birth. Often these 4 Sundays are broken down into 4 topics: Hope (or promise), preparation (waiting or prophecy), Joy (peace), Love (adoration).
These topics culminate into the final topic on Christmas Eve of Adoration: the worship and adoration of an almighty, sovereign, God that put-on flesh and humbled Himself to be born as a baby. To walk through the same trials and temptations that we walkthrough, and to ultimately pay the ultimate sacrifice for our sins on a cross. Then, to rise again, with the keys to death and hell in His hands, so that the gap between us and God could be bridged, and we could have a right relationship with God again. With this hope, preparation, joy, love, and adoration are all found in the perfect work of Christ. I pray we keep this joy in our hearts as we walk through this season of celebration and as we not only look back at Christ’s birth but look ahead to His second coming for His church.
“Father, I want this holiday season to be filled with light instead of darkness.
Please help me discard my emotional masks and
be real before You as well as my family and friends.
Father, help me make this holiday season an offering
of praise to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”
~Mary Southerland, from “Turning Christmas Chaos into Christmas Joy” from Girlfriends in God