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.  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. 

More pertinent 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.

Why Advent?

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 October 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.

Where do we start with Advent?

We start today.  Today is the first Sunday of Advent.  The theme for the first Sunday (and this week) is hope.  Indeed, Advent is a time for hope. 

Image courtesy of Igniter Media

This is not the “I hope I get an iPad for Christmas”.  This is hope based on and for Jesus Christ.  Think of Advent as a journey and here we are four weeks away from celebrating Christ’s birth.  We hope.

Read the following two passages of Scripture for today and meditate on the hope we have in Christ!

“The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will fulfill the gracious promise I made to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah. 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. 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 Righteousness.

Jeremiah 33:14-16
New International Version

I always thank God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. For in him you have been enriched in every way—in all your speaking and in all your knowledge— because our testimony about Christ was confirmed in you. Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.

1 Corinthians 1:4-9
New International Version

Suggestions for reading and meditation through this week:

  • Isaiah 2:1-5
  • Isaiah 64:1-9
  • Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19
  • Romans 13:11-14
  • Song: “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”
  • Song: “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus”

Happy first Sunday of Advent!  In Romans 5:5 Paul writes “Hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”

Would you like more? Joel and his staff team wrote a daily devotional for Advent called The Battle for Christmas. You can pick it up here.