Advent — More Than a Chocolate Calendar
On Wednesday morning I received an excited, albeit early, wake-up call from our youngest children. They’d been looking forward to the 1st of December for weeks! They knew they’d wake up to Advent calendars and therefore eat chocolate first thing in the morning for the next twenty-five days. Well, that’s what we used to do. But we’ve implemented a new practice in our household this year; we’re not eating our Christmas Advent calendar chocolate until we’ve read our Advent devotion. Because if I’m honest, we’ve never been too busy to eat the chocolate but we have had days in December where we didn’t make time to focus on what Advent is really about.
In its simplest definition, Advent is the season of the year leading up to Christmas. The word advent itself means ‘arrival’. It lasts for four Sundays, beginning on the 28th of November. Advent is a celebration of Jesus’ first coming and an anticipation of His second coming. As Israel longed for their Messiah to come, so Christians long for their Saviour to come again. Although it’s not biblically prescribed that we celebrate Advent, it’s certainly an excellent practice to do it; to prioritise Jesus’ and his return during this beautiful and often busy season.
Here are three practical ways we can prioritise Advent this year:
- Advent Devotion
It’s probably too late to order a book online, but there are hundreds of excellent Advent devotions online and on the YouVersion Bible App. You can spend time individually or with your family each day opening God’s word through these devotions.
- Daily Alarm
This seems really obvious, but actually do it! Set an alarm on your phone, at a time when you know you will have space to pray. Each day use that specific time to pray you will be bold in sharing the gospel this Christmas or inviting loved ones to Church; pray you will quiet your heart and that God will give you a fresh experience of His great love seen in Jesus coming to us; pray you will be generous towards others as we follow the example of our gracious and generous Christ; pray for humility as you seek more of Jesus and less of self during this busy season.
- Be Deliberate
Make conscious decisions about what you’re watching, listening to, reading, and how you’re spending your time. There are some beautiful Christmas movies you can watch that will point your attention and affection to Christ. There are hundreds of Christmas playlists you can have on in the car or background instead of the noisy cacophony of the radio. You could read one of the Gospels or spend time studying Isaiah using our Growth Group booklet ‘A Light Has Dawned’.
To finish, let me point you to Christ through the lyrics of verse one from the beautiful Christmas Carol ‘Come Thou Long Expected Jesus’.
Come, thou long expected Jesus,
Born to set thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us;
Let us find our rest in thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear Desire of ev’ry nation,
Joy of every longing heart.