We mostly ditched Christmas a few years ago. Not out of Scroogish tendencies, but because of the increasing materialism. Each year it became harder for us to find true meaning and spirituality among all the commercial trappings. So for several years we did little during the holidays.
Then I started looking into Advent – and found what I think of as the missing piece of Christmas. Because Advent highlights the Gospel’s eschatological aspects. “Highlights what?” you might well ask.
Well simply put, “eschatology” theologically studies the last things or end times. We could consider it a complicated way of stating our belief that more (and the best) is yet to come. And Advent, by including this perspective, both enriches and completes Christmas.
Because the story does not end with Christmas!
A triple celebration, Advent means coming or arrival.
But more than a mere celebration, Advent emphasizes the threefold aspect of Christ’s coming:
- His first arrival into the world at Bethlehem as Israel’s promised Messiah.
- His current coming into hearts and lives as Lord and Savior.
- His promised return when he will come in glorious power as King of kings and Lord of lords.
[Images by LUMO Project (Big Book Media) from FreeBibleImages.org; all rights reserved, educational use only.]
And it thereby creates a season of giving thanks for Christ’s first coming as Savior of the world, while also joyfully awaiting his second coming. And fosters a time of keeping and preparing our hearts as his current abiding place.
Did you think of Advent as simply a calendar with doors or boxes containing tiny gifts to open? A countdown to Christmas with still another gift-receiving focus? So did I, and so never paid it much mind before learning of its rich connotations.
We love the monumental significance of Christmas: Emmanuel or God with us. But the Christmas holiday, season with all its modern-day snares, left us with an incomplete, dissatisfied feeling.
Because the story doesn’t end with Christmas!
More (and the best) is yet to come! And Advent carries the Christmas celebration forward to that! To the one thing we most long for – Christ’s soon coming return!
The story of Christmas doesn’t end with Christmas. More (and the best) is yet to come!Tweet
Stress and pressure often beset the busy modern-day Christmas. While Advent, by centering around four candle-lighting devotional times, encourages us to slow down and focus on what Christmas really means.
Beginning on the fourth Sunday before Christmas, we light the first candle of the Advent wreath, lighting an additional candle each subsequent week. Until by the last Sunday before Christmas all four are lit, along with the center candle. Each candle, along with chosen songs, reflective prayer, and Scripture readings concentrates on the rich truths of the hope, faith, joy, and peace we have in Christ.
Take some time to discover or rediscover how Advent can infuse your or your church’s holiday season with renewed spiritual vitality and joy. And who knows? After seeing how it can also restore your anticipation and hope for Christ’s second coming, you might decide to celebrate it more than once a year!
Start enriching your holidays with the beauty of Advent!
Check out these Advent ideas and devotionals to start preparing for next year:
Merry Christmas and Happy Advent to you all!
IMAGES: Nativity from Unsplash. | Candle from Pexels.
From FreeBibleImages.org: Baby Jesus, Man praying, and Men blinded by bright light, all 3 by LUMO Project (Big Book Media); all rights reserved, educational use only. / Others: Nativity from Unsplash. | Candle from Pexels.