Every year, I plan on buying a traditional Advent calendar to help my family get ready for Christmas. I like the idea of daily Advent readings that help build anticipation for the celebration of Jesus’ birth. Unfortunately, I’m usually busy and forget to buy the calendar until after Advent has already started. There is so much going on at Thanksgiving, and then the parties start, and before you know it, Christmas is upon us. The calendar itself is not the most important thing; it’s about what celebrating Advent does for us during a very busy time of the year.
Advent is the season that starts four Sundays before Christmas. For hundreds of years, Christians have used this season to remember the coming of Christ, and to prepare for Christmas. It’s more than just a piece of history, though. So, why do we celebrate Advent? Celebrating the Advent season can help us today to follow Christ more faithfully in at least three ways.
Advent helps us focus on Jesus.
We’ve all heard the clichés like “Jesus is the reason for the season” and “Let’s keep Christ in Christmas.” Even though they are clichés, they contain nuggets of truth. One of the reasons that they exist is that it is just so easy to let all of the activities, and shopping, and parties overwhelm our focus on Jesus. Celebrating Advent gives us daily and weekly reminders through Scripture about who Christ is and what He did for us when He came to earth.
Advent helps us honor Jesus.
The word “Advent” means the arrival of someone or something important. When an important event like a graduation or wedding is coming, we work hard to make sure everything is perfect. When an important person is coming to visit, we work hard to properly prepare for them so that they will know they are valuable to us. We plan the menu and the decorations; we clean the house and edge the lawn. We don’t just wait until the last minute and throw something together. Similarly, celebrating Advent helps us give Jesus the proper attention and focus He deserves. By focusing on Him throughout this season, and not just on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, we honor Him more faithfully.
Advent helps us remember Jesus is coming again.
Advent is not only a celebration of Christ’s first coming as a baby; it is also a reminder of Jesus’ return that is yet to come. Just as God’s people awaited the first coming of the Messiah, His people now await the return of our Savior. The four weeks of Advent remind us of both of these comings. In weeks one and two, the Scripture readings look forward to His second coming and remind us of the importance of being prepared for His return. Weeks three and four look backward and help us remember the excitement and expectation that the hope of the Messiah brought to the ancient Jews. It has always been important for God’s people to remember that God is up to something, and that we need to live in expectation of what He will do when He comes again.
In our world, there are so many things that can occupy our attention. The Christmas season is one of the most exciting times of the year, but it is also one of the most distracting seasons of the year. Even for those who want to keep focused on Jesus, it is difficult to do so. By celebrating Advent, we acknowledge that celebrating Jesus is more than one evening and the following day. The ‘how’ to celebrate Advent isn’t as important as the connection you make with Him, so create special traditions as a family and grow in Him together. Let us be a people who acknowledge God’s great love and generosity for his people every day this Advent season.
Devotional credit: Dayspring.com