I have been getting out the Christmas decorations this weekend, and in with them found a book I enjoy every Christmas season. As I read the first entry this morning, the word that stood out to me was advent.
And so, I ponder - what does this mean, what does it mean to me?
The word advent is defined by Merriam-Webster as:
"1. The period beginning four Sundays before Christmas and observed by some Christians as a season of prayer and fasting.
2. The coming of Christ at the Incarnation.
3. A coming into being or use."
Hmmm, why do some churches celebrate Advent and some do not? Ours doesn't, but I grew up in a church that did. And, why was there never a focus on the prayer and fasting part - or is there in some churches? Why all the advent trees, wreaths, and calendars and what is their purpose?
After doing further research including reading some articles listed below, the thing that stood out to me is that the season of advent is a time of preparation for the coming of Christ. What matters more than who celebrates what and how is the attitude of expectation and preparation for the celebration of Jesus' birth and of His future coming.
I was thinking about the anticipation of the coming. When I know someone is coming over to our house or out-of-town company is coming - I make preparations. I try to think of every detail to make their stay enjoyable. Foods they like, activities they like, books they like, and especially to make sure the location is warm and hospitable for them.
But, how much effort do I put into preparing my heart for God? Surely if HE was coming to my home, I would go all out. My heart is His home, how welcoming is it for Him? How have I prepared it for Him? Does my heart feel inviting to Him?
These are the things I want to focus on during Advent this year. I also welcome any comments on how you celebrate Advent or what it means to you.
A couple of articles I found helpful were:
Advent - Close Encounters of a Liturgical Kind
The Season of Advent: Anticipation and Hope