I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits,
and in his word I put my hope.
Advent is coming. It begins in two days. Given that the word “advent” is derived from the Latin term adventus, which means “visit” or “coming,” one might well speak of the advent of Advent, the imminent coming of this unique Christian season. In 2018, Advent begins on Sunday, December 2, continuing, as always, through Christmas Eve, December 24.
Many people I know—including me—feel eager about the approach of Advent, much as we might feel about the pending visit of a dear, old friend. Yet, many others among my human friends don’t really care that Advent is around the corner. These include quite a few of my Christian friends, by the way. Some of these really aren’t even sure what Advent is or why anyone would care.
Advent is known to be a season of preparation for Christmas. That’s true, though Advent has its own distinctive themes, moods, and colors. Christmas decorations feature red and green, backed up by white, silver, and gold. The major Advent color is, depending on your church tradition, either purple or deep blue, with pink as a secondary color. The distinct colors of Advent illustrate the fact that it isn’t just a time to get ready for Christmas.
Above all, Advent is a season of waiting and hoping. In this time, Christians remember the ancient Jewish longing for God’s salvation through the Messiah, the Anointed King. We also get in touch with our own longing for Christ’s return visit, when God will establish his kingdom and wipe away every tear. Psalm 130:5 captures well the spirit of Advent: “I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.” Waiting, hoping, focusing on the Lord… that’s what Advent is all about.
This year, the Life for Leaders devotions will be taking an intentional look at Advent by focusing on the four traditional themes of Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love. Our weekend writers will be considering these themes over the four Sundays of the Advent season. We’ll also have some resources up on the De Pree Center blog to help us meditate on the Advent season. Look forward to these pieces as they come out over the next four weeks!
Additionally, if you would like a basic introduction to Advent, let me recommend a couple of resources I have produced. My blog article “What is Advent?” is a convenient point of entry to Advent traditions. Plus, a few years ago, I wrote a short e-book with the title: Discovering Advent: How to Experience the Power of Waiting on God at Christmastime. You can purchase a Kindle version of this book from Amazon.
When I write about Advent, I note that there is no biblical requirement to recognize this Christian season. Biblically-guided Christians are free to participate or not. But the themes of Advent are profoundly biblical. I, like many other Christians who take Scripture seriously, have found in Advent a way to grow in my relationship with God.
Something to Think About:
How do you feel about the approach of Advent?
Did you grow up with any Advent traditions in your family or church?
What helps you draw near to God in the weeks before Christmas?
Something to Do:
Advent celebrations can be very simple. You may very well have your own personal or church traditions. I encourage you to follow them this year. If you are unfamiliar with practices associated with Advent, you can find out about some of them in my “What is Advent?” article.
Gracious God, thank you for the approach of Advent. Thank you for a season of the year to focus on waiting and hoping. Thank you for the chance to focus on you in a time of year that is often filled with seasonal busyness and merriment.
Lord, in these next weeks, I ask that you will stir up in me a fresh longing for you and your Kingdom. Prepare me to celebrate, as if for the first time, the wonder of your birth. Amen.