I don’t know about you, but Advent is something I’ve had to grow into. More accurately, perhaps, it’s a season I’m still growing into.
I can remember lighting the candles in the weeks leading up to Christmas. I remember beautiful services leading up to Christmas Eve by candlelight. However, my memories are all pretty much of the external trappings and music that come with waiting for Christmas. I don’t recall using the time to spiritually prepare for His coming and the fulfillment of the promise. Even now, I find that it’s quite easy to overlook and underestimate the importance of this time.
My a-ha moment has actually been many little moments. But, it can be summarized by a single statement.
Advent and Christmas are two distinct seasons in the Christian Year, each with its own purpose.
Two distinct seasons – a new way of thinking!
Advent is a time of waiting. It’s an invitation to slow down during the hectic and sometimes overwhelming season of more. A time to count our blessings and set right our thoughts and priorities.
It’s time to quiet the noise, make room, and prepare not just for the birth of the Savior, but for his return as well.
Everything has its own time. We use Advent calendars to count the days and blessings as we wait. We light the candles during worship each Sunday until we arrive at the Christ candle. These are all reminders that we are waiting for the promise.
That Christ would come … Isaiah 7:14
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
And that he will come again … Hebrews 9:28
So Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.
We’ve been waiting for 2000 years with no idea of when the wait will end. Patience is necessary.
However, we’ve much to do while we wait. Waiting isn’t passive!
While we wait, Jesus calls us to keep watch (Matthew 24:36-44).
Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.
We are to prepare ourselves for the coming days. To let go of what we can’t control and to live as Jesus taught here and now. To count our blessings and give thanks for what we’ve been given:
- additional time on this earth;
- time and space to set our hearts in order for whatever is to come;
- help from our Lord Jesus Christ to see that all of life, the world we live in, and each treasure it contains, is a pure gift from God, who first gave us Jesus, long ago in the little town of Bethlehem;
- the grace of our Lord teaching us to continually give our lives back over to him.
Blessings and grace,