Unless you grew up in “liturgical” Christian traditions, “advent” might be a foreign word. I did not grow up in one these traditions but Advent has become something very near and dear to my heart. It’s not something to fight over if your church doesn’t do it, but it certainly helps me to focus at a time when focus is a littler harder to come by.
What is “Advent”?
“Advent” means “coming”. There are two ways this word is used. In one way it can be used as “the advent of our Lord” or “His second advent”. “The advent of our Lord” typically refers to the time before Christmas while “His second advent” refers to His return. Germane to this devotional, Advent is a season of preparation immediately preceding Christmas. The celebration of Advent began, most likely, around the fourth century. It wasn’t until the Middle Ages, however, that it was “standardized” as beginning four Sundays before Christmas. In terms of the Christmas Calendar, it is considered the beginning. Makes sense, doesn’t it? We are preparing for the birth of Jesus: the beginning, so to speak, of when everything changed.
Advent helps us manage this season which has grown from a week before Christmas to beginning sometime after Halloween. Full disclosure: I was listening to Christmas music around November 1! Advent helps keep us grounded in the meaning of the season and keeps December from being nothing more than about a Christmas tree that will die and end up on the curb hoping someone comes by and recycles it while more and more needles continue to drop off.
When is Advent?
Advent begins four Sundays before Christmas Day and lasts for four weeks. It ends at the stroke of midnight on Christmas Eve and Christmas begins. This year, Advent begins on Sunday, November 27 and ends Saturday, December 24.