Do you remember opening a chocolate advent calendar when you were a kid? I do. I loved getting that calendar each year. Today, many of my friends are giving their kids the much desired “Lindt Advent Calendar”.
Yet the Advent story is still missed by many families in our churches. Our family this year is going through a story for Advent each day. We are making this an intentional priority for our family. We are going to be setting aside 20 minutes each day, beginning the fourth Sunday before Christmas, to light candles, read a devotional for that day, and pray together.
Advent. Adventus. Ecce advenit Dominatus. Behold, the Lord, the Ruler, is come. Reaching back two millennia to the birth of the Christ child and forward to his reign on earth, the tradition of Advent is a threefold celebration of the birth of Jesus, his eventual second coming to earth, and his continued presence in our lives here and now. God in our past, God in our future, God in our present.
History of Advent.
It started with people going hungry to purifyl themselves and prepare themselves for holy living. A fast, we call it, and such a fast was ordered by the Council of Saragosa in A.D. 381. For three weeks before Epiphany (a feast in January celebrating the divine revelation of Jesus to the gentile Magi), the people were to prepare themselves by fasting and praying. The tradition spread to France in 581 by decree of the Council of Macon, and to Rome and beyond thereafter. Gregory the First refined the season to its present form in about 600 when he declared that it should start the fourth Sunday before Christmas.
Fasting is no longer a part of Advent in most homes and churches (though it wouldn’t be a bad idea for some). For us, Advent means taking time each day, for the three or four weeks before Christmas, to centre our thoughts on Truth Incarnate lying in a feeding trough in Bethlehem. It’s a time of worship, a time of reflection, a time of focus, and time of of family communion. In the midst of December’s commotion and stress. Advent is a few moments to stop, catch your breath, and renew your strength from the only One who can provide true strength.
What advent traditions do you remember or do now with your family or ministry?