What is “advent” and is it contagious?
First, it’s nothing to be worried about.
And I certainly hope it is contagious.
Unless you grew up in “liturgical” Christian traditions, “advent” might be a foreign word. I did not grow up in one of these traditions, but Advent has become something very near and dear to my heart.
What is “Advent”?
“Advent” means “coming”. There are two ways this word is used. First, it’s a reference to the arrival of Jesus in Bethlehem. Second, it can be used as a reference to the return of Jesus.
Understood best, the season of Advent reminds us of both.
As the season preceding Christmas, 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 Christian 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 April 1—no fooling!
Seriously, 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.
With the idea of keeping us grounded in the rich meaning of this entire season, we begin our Advent adventure in Jeremiah 33:14-16.
14 “ ‘The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will fulfill the good promise
I made to the people of Israel and Judah.
15 “ ‘In those days and at that time I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line; he will do what is just and right in the land.
16 In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety.
This is the name by which it will be called: The Lord Our Righteous Savior.’
Jeremiah 33:14-16, NIV
In that manger in Bethlehem, the Lord did fulfill His good promise. The hope of the world was laid in a box of straw. Jesus was the fulfillment of all the prophecies leading up to that one amazing night.
How do we practice “hope” in Jesus? I have three suggestions for this.
- Don’t live in “functional atheism”. This is when we profess Jesus on our lips but our lives declare we are doing it all by ourselves. This isn’t the hope He has for you.
- Spend time with Jesus. If you want to get to know Jesus and the hope He offers, then you’ll have to spend time with Him. Relationships are built through time. Sing to Him. Study His word. Pray to Him. Listen to Him.
- Offer the hope He has given you. Nothing helps us feel the hope of Jesus more than when we give that hope to others. Jesus didn’t just come for “us” but for ALL of us. Share His hope in tangible ways. Share your story. Take some time with someone. Help out where you can.
I’m honored to be walking this Advent journey with you. May Advent infect us all and may we infect everyone around us with the first part of it: the hope of Jesus.
“Life Meets Theology” will return to its normal Wednesday morning distribution on January 3.