We wait for you: Why celebrate Advent this December

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By Alice Clarke

I’ve always loved starting December with an Advent calendar. Who wouldn't want to kick off the Christmas season with a little bit of chocolate first thing in the morning? Yep, that’s right, I open my calendar as soon as I wake up. Delicious.

Ok ok, Advent is clearly much more than cardboard calendars with tasty little chocolate snowmen inside…

I recently went digging to find out more about Advent, why we celebrate it, and why it’s worth taking more time for Advent this December.

Advent connects us to tradition

Early Advent traditions date back to 567AD when monks fasted in the month of December leading up to Christmas (The Tradition of Avent).

I’ve never regularly attended a liturgical church, but I love the idea of liturgy; joining in the practices that believers have done for thousands of years to worship God.

In his article, Seven Reasons to Celebrate Advent, Ryan Shelton says, “...celebrating Advent is an opportunity to imitate the faith of many faithful leaders who have gone before us. We can avoid what C.S. Lewis called ‘chronological snobbery’ by letting the voices of seasoned saints offer wisdom into our context.”

Advent is more than a Christmas celebration

I’ve often thought about Advent as the time to take a break from the busyness of Christmas prep. A time to remember Jesus’ first coming and to spiritually prepare for Christmas day. But it’s about much more. It’s about the anticipation of Jesus coming again.

In Journey into the Heart of God: Living the Liturgical Year, Phillip H. Pfatteicher says, “Indeed the very name Adventus, ‘coming,’ ‘approach,’ suggests not only the coming of God into the world in Jesus but the approaching return of the risen Lord in all his heavenly splendour.”

Advent is a time where we can connect to the past, present and future. We remember Jesus coming as a baby in Bethlehem, him coming into our hearts on a daily basis, and his glorious coming at the end of time.

Advent gets us comfortable with waiting

I’m not that used to waiting for much. If I have a question, I can search online and find the answer in seconds. If I need something, I can order it online, only waiting a matter of days for it to come. When I get out of the practice of waiting, it can become painful and awkward.

Advent is designed to be a waiting experience. We’re not just imagining the prophets of the old testament waiting for the Messiah. We begin to dig into the reality that there’s more; that so many of God’s promises are yet to be fulfilled.

Waiting is part of God’s design. Waiting is good for us. It’s an opportunity to connect to God, to lean into his presence in the discomfort, and to pursue more revelation from him.

I love how Timothy Paul Jones put it in his article Why Celebrate Avent:

“When I recall that there’s meaning even in times of waiting, the question that occupies my mind as I stand in line at the supermarket isn’t whether I’ve chosen the quickest line but how I might invest this waiting in something weightier than my own to-do list… Advent reminds us to listen for the message God is speaking, even in the waiting.”

How to celebrate advent

I’m not about to scrap the chocolate advent calendars. But I find my heart is seeking daily meaning from the richness of the real Christmas story, rather than images of Santa, robins, and snowmen.

Advent is a time to reflect in the middle of a season that can become crazy busy.

Many churches celebrate Advent by lighting a candle on each of the four Sundays before Christmas, each with a different meaning.

This December, I want to take Advent’s opportunity for rest, prayer, and connection with God and my family at home. There are lots of good tools out there - In the next blog, you’ll discover great devotionals to help celebrate advent.

I’m also on the hunt for an advent candle to light each day in December, as a reminder of Jesus, the light of the world, shining in the darkness.

Anita Wing Lee