What is Advent and is it important for the Christian?
Where I come from, “Black Friday” means “Turn Your Face Toward Christmas.” In other words, the Friday following Thanksgiving means its time to turn on the Christmas music, bust out the Christmas coffee mugs, get the decorations out of the attic, and throwback some Nog (non-alchoholic Egg Nog, that is).
Also, where I come from, my Southern Baptist upbringing didn’t really talk much about Advent at Christmas. Not to say that all Southern Baptist’s do this – but my “growing up days” did not include use of the “Advent” word. It probably wasn’t until college – when I met an incredible Methodist girl – that I paid much attention to it at all.
So, if you’re me, you might be wondering – “What is Advent?”
One of the best explanations I have read comes from a guy named David Mathis (executive director at Desiring God):
“Advent is an annual season of patient waiting, hopeful expectation, soul-searching, and calendar-watching marked by many churches, Christian families, and individual followers of Jesus. There’s no biblical mandate to observe Advent. It’s an optional thing – a tradition that developed over the course of the church’s history as a time of preparation for Christmas Day. . . The English word ‘Advent’ is from the Latin adventus, which means ‘coming.’ The advent primarily in view each December is the first coming of Jesus two millennia ago. . . Advent begins the fourth Sunday before Christmas and ends Christmas Eve. This means the earliest it begins, depending on where that Sunday falls, is November 27, and the latest it starts is December 3. . . Some light candles. Some sing songs. Some eat candies. Some give gifts. Some hang wreaths. Many of us do all of the above. . . But the figure at the center is Jesus – the baby born in Bethlehem, the God-man in swaddling clothes, laid in a manger, destined for Calvary, sent by His Father to die and rise again for His people.”
Simply put, Advent is a time every Christmas season for Christians to intentionally anticipate Christmas Day by focusing on Christ’s first coming. It’s a way to encourage followers of Jesus to constantly remember “The Reason for the Season.”
Truth be told, then, I DID grow up doing Advent – it just wasn’t called that. Gratefully, I did grow up going to a church and in a home that helped me focus on the real reason for Christmas. I’m guessing if you grew up in church – you did too – regardless of what it was called. The only difference being that whereas many denominations celebrate by calling it Advent and lighting candles or hanging wreaths – Southern Baptist’s just call it “Christmastime” (or “Lottie time“!) and do the “eating candies” thing to celebrate . . . cause that’s how we roll (that’s a joke. . . sort of).
Is Advent important?
You better believe it is. SUPER important. The more commercialized Christmas gets, the more crucial it becomes. Christians must work overtime – in my opinion – to almost force themselves to remember why we celebrate this incredible season in the first place. The biblical/historical events surrounding Christmas and Easter make us who we are!
For the next three Sundays at FBC El Do – I will be preaching on various Christmas texts in a series called “Chaos at Christmas.” But let me also recommend a couple of personal/family devotionals to help you “do” Advent (translation: focus on the Person and Work and Coming of Jesus) this Christmas season:
Good News of Great Joy by John Piper (where I quoted from David Mathis earlier)
You can purchase this OR download it in Ebook form for FREE!!!
This is an app that costs anywhere from $0.99 to $1.99.
Counting the Days, Lighting the Candles: A Christmas Advent Devotional by Elyse Fitzpatrick
Physical book only – cost is just over $11 at Amazon – if you order today, could be here by Wednesday.
Another physical book only – cost just over $8 at Amazon.
What are some others you have found to be helpful????