Advent is the beginning of the church’s year. And the church’s year begins quietly – not with champagne and fireworks and dancing, like we might do on New Year’s Eve.
It is a solemn season. It’s not quite the same as penitential Lent, reflecting on our sinfulness and asking for forgiveness, but it’s a thoughtful time, a reflective time.
Advent is a time of preparation – not so much preparation for a feast and a festival, but getting ready for the coming of Christ, for the incarnation, which is about God becoming a human being, for Jesus being born as a baby. It’s about getting ready inside, dusting down our prayers, polishing up our commitment to Christ, stirring up our desire for the kingdom of heaven. In fact, that is what Advent means – it was a Latin word which meant the solemn arrival or a god or emperor.
We are waiting for two things: We are waiting for the coming of Jesus. And we are also waiting for Jesus coming again at the end of time. As a church we have been waiting for 2,000 years, and we are still waiting. Christ will come again. We know that. And at Advent, we renew our watchfulness, looking out for the signs that Christ is coming and he will make all things new. Key words for advent are watching and waiting.
What does Advent mean for us? I know December is busy. I know there is a lot to do. But I would encourage you to engage with Advent, to help prepare yourself spiritually for Christmas. You might spend a little longer on your prayers.
Reading through a book of reflections, poems or digging deep into the meaning of Advent:
Or just take one word and think about it as you go about your daily business:
Many Bible study websites have a special page with verses for advent. It can be very mediative to think on one verse all day for each day of Advent.
What about the Names of Jesus as a way of embracing Advent this year: