This introductory post is an adaptation of an article entitled: The Evangelical’s Guide to Advent.
Many conservative evangelicals crusade against the War on Christmas, but many of us are guilty of neglecting the equally important celebration of Advent. Well, it’s time to start digging into what this age-old Christian tradition is all about. Over the next four weeks, I will post a blog to help you get acquainted with Advent.
Maybe you grew up in a non-denominational, Charismatic, or Pentecostal church where the word Advent was never mentioned. Now you’re older and you have a greater appreciation of historic Christianity. Like many young evangelicals, your curiosity has been peeked by liturgical traditions and their holy reverence, which was absent in your early church experiences. When is Advent season? What in the world is the wreath all about? What do the candles mean? Why do millions of Christians around the world observe Advent? Stay calm. I will try to answer these questions over the next four weeks. Here’s what you need to know this week.
What is Advent?
The word Advent comes from the Latin word for coming. In a nutshell, Advent is a time of preparation for the commemoration of the birth of Christ. But it is also a forward-looking celebration of His Second Coming. For our liturgical brothers and sisters, Advent marks the start of the Christian calendar year. For Western Christians, it begins after the Sunday closest to November 30 and extends until Christmas day.
What is Advent all About?
Though the Christmas season begins earlier and earlier each year (I noticed decorations in August!) we are no better prepared to celebrate it. Slowing down is difficult in today’s world. Advent can help. Advent is a time of preparation. For Christians, the four weeks of Advent are a time to prepare our hearts for celebrating the birth of our savior. It is a time of self-examination, repentance, and even fasting.
Evangelicals can easily identify with Advent’s focus on spiritual preparation. The Scriptures constantly call us to examine our lives and to confess and forsake our sin. We also believe Jesus is present in the world today, and that He will one day come again in power. Knowing that we live in the time between His first and second coming motivates us to live holy lives. We are also called to be faithful stewards of all that He has entrusted to us. One day and us we will have to give an account to Him.
We understand too that Jesus came to earth to save humanity from their sins. As evangelical Christians, we are called to win souls in the name of Christ before His Second Coming. Observing Jesus Christ’s birth is not complete without acknowledging that he came to die for our sins and will one day return to Judge the living and the dead. Therefore it is fitting that we prepare our hearts, rejoice at His Birth, and watch for His return.
So before we get all bent out of shape over the left’s war on Christmas, maybe we should take the next four weeks to slow down and prepare our hearts so that we can truly celebrate Christmas!
Next week we will look at the colors of Advent.
–Pastor Paul Di Toma