When I was growing up, we never celebrated Advent. My mom would buy something called an “Advent calendar,” but I don’t think anyone in my family knew what it was supposed to be; to us, it was just a fancy way to count down the days until Christmas. We had a manger, but we didn’t spend much, if any, time talking about what Jesus Christ came to bring. Now, my husband and I are at a church that does celebrate the weeks of Advent, and until last Christmas, I didn’t even know what they were.
Advent is a shortened version of the Latin word adventus, which means “coming.” Advent is the time just before Christmas when we celebrate the promise of Jesus’s coming. I really like Advent because in the busyness of the Christmas season, it helps us focus on the real reason we celebrate.
Advent begins on the Sunday closest to November 30 and there are usually four themes—one associated with each week of Advent. There are many variations, but the first week most often deals with hope or expectation. Each week usually has a couple of Scripture readings that are associated with that week’s theme.
This week’s theme has traditional readings from Isaiah 9:2 and Luke 1:5-17.
The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them. —Isaiah 9:2
This traditional reading from Isaiah is one of the many places in the Old Testament where the coming of the Messiah is prophesied. The reading from Luke addresses the prophesy the angel delivered to Zacharias regarding the birth of John the Baptist, who would prepare the way for the Messiah.
The focus, then, of the first week of Advent is the promise God made to send hope into the world through Jesus and the expectation as the world waited for His appearance. Soon the promise God made to His people and to the world would be fulfilled when a 12-year-old girl gave birth in a barn to a King in the body of a baby—to the First Born of Creation and the One whose blood would cleanse sinners and bring hope to a hopeless world.
Even if you don’t celebrate Advent as a family, you can still take time to focus on the promises of God and the inheritance we have in Jesus Christ.
Girls, does your family celebrate Advent?
And he [John the Baptist] will turn many of the sons of Israel back to the Lord their God. It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.
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