Does Advent really matter? I mean, many people in today's world don't even know what Advent is or that it is a season at all. In our culture we just start at Thanksgiving and call it the "Holiday" Season until New Year's Day? The Christmas season has been renamed and elongated for the sake of gift-buying, parties, and extended time off of work and school. Advent is slowly disappearing, and frankly, I think we are spiritually poorer for it.
Historically, people spent the Advent season in quiet introspection, acknowledging our human shortcomings and our need for a Savior. It was a symbolic period of WAITING for the coming of the Messiah, and looking forward to the day when He finally returns again. Now we spend those same twenty four days frantically shopping, buying, and wrapping gifts. We attend parties, concerts, and the Nutcracker ballet. We menu plan and organize family celebrations, trying to make things bigger and better and more memorable that last year's festivities. How contradictory to the somber darkness of Advent, the slowing down and the contemplation, the focus on our own personal frailty and how our sins have separated us from God. There is something very humbling in Advent...in waiting for the Savior. Advent is important and significant because it prepares us to FULLY CELEBRATE Christmas.
Now don't get me wrong, I love all the holiday celebrations as much as anyone, but those used to come AFTER Christmas. That's right, folks. Did you know that the Twelve Days of Christmas are NOT the twelve days leading up to Christmas Day? The Christmas season traditionally started on Christmas Eve, and the Twelve Days of Christmas were the twelve days between Christmas Day and Epiphany. That's why they didn't put the tree up until Christmas Eve.
December 1st through 24th was the ADVENT season. The period between December 25th and January 6th was the Christmas season. And January 6th was the day commemorating the arrival of the Magi - the wise men - in Bethlehem to worship the Newborn King. But somehow it's all been melded together into the "Holiday Season" and Epiphany has all but slipped off the calendar for most people.
Take a Five Minute Walk Today
Advent officially begins tomorrow, but let's spend today in true anticipation of the birth we celebrate on December 25th. Take a five minute walk today and think of how it feels to have to wait for something you really want. Then ask God to give you that ache in your heart for Him so you can truly CELEBRATE Christmas in a new and deeper way this year. There is a sweet sadness during Advent, and that bittersweet experience makes waiting for the Savior so intense that the celebration of Christmas becomes all the brighter and more beautiful.