The four Sundays before Christmas mark the season during the liturgical year when most denominations celebrate Advent. This tradition is practiced as a period of remembrance and expectation.
Remembering God’s faithfulness to His people during their long wait for the Savior of the world and the arrival of the promised Messiah. Expecting His return as we, in turn, wait.
Most of us aren’t very good at waiting, but 2020 has asked much of us in this regard. As much as we dislike it, there is much to learn through waiting. And the Word of God has a lot to say about waiting.
“It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.”
“But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”
“Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and our shield.”
In God’s economy there is a definite purpose in waiting. Waiting with hopeful expectation could be called faith. When our waiting is rooted in trust in our Creator Father and His perfect timing, we can have inward peace to accompany our faith-filled expectation.
Why doesn’t everyone celebrate Advent?
Christmas is about the celebration of the Christ Child, while Advent’s emphasis is on anticipation during the waiting. Celebration is much more popular than waiting.
However, there is power both in remembrance and the hope stirred up in the waiting. When we share stories of God’s past faithfulness, we prepare our hearts for what is ahead.
Advent does this. It prepares our hearts for the coming of the Christ Child and increases our faith for what is ahead.
How do we celebrate Advent?
Most churches and families do it a bit differently. Some light a different candle each Sunday leading up to Christmas. The candles represent hope, joy, love, and peace and follow the events leading up to the birth of Jesus. A fifth candle is lit on Christmas day, in celebration of the birth of Immanuel, God with us.
There are many devotionals and books written to assist in preparing your heart for Christmas. Families can also do the Jesse Tree devotion and make the accompanying ornaments for each day of Advent. This tradition dates back to Medieval times and traces the Gospel message through the Bible from Creation to the Christmas story.
These family and church traditions during the Advent season are especially meaningful this year. We all need some extra grounding in the steadfastness and truth of the Gospel story. Traditions like these provide outward expressions of inward hope and are tangible reminders of our decision to remain expectant.
What does your family do to remember and remain expectant? Do you have an Advent tradition or what tradition can you begin this year to prepare your heart for Christmas?