What is Advent and Why Should We Celebrate It?
Advent is a preparatory season in the historical church calendar that focuses on the “coming” or “visitation” of Jesus, culminating in the celebration of Christmas (adventus is Latin for “coming”). The Bible doesn’t command that we celebrate Advent but we at City Church believe that is it a helpful practice for the spiritual formation of our church. Why?
1. Advent helps us align our December calendars with the Story of God. Often we spend more time thinking about the demands of Christmas than the glory of Christ. Advent helps us use December as a time to reflect on Jesus’ gracious and radical intervention in the world (as opposed to the consumerism of our current culture). Through gathered worship (Sundays) and family devotions/readings, advent helps us worship Jesus – the God who humbly became a baby in order to establish His Kingdom and give Himself up for all of us so that we might have a restored life with God.
2. Advent stirs our longings for the second coming of Christ. Even as we celebrate the incarnation of Jesus, advent reminds us that though Christ’s Kingdom is already present in the world (and in us!), it is also not yet fully realized. Thus, advent stirs our hearts to pray for Christ’s return, groan for the current brokenness of the world (and ourselves), and give ourselves more fully to participating in God’s redemptive purposes in the world.
3. Advent gives us a strategic opportunity to share the hope of Christ’s coming with our friends/family who aren’t yet connected to Jesus or the church. Both as the church gathered (on Sundays) and the church scattered (throughout the week), Christmas/advent affords us a great opportunity to share the Gospel. Many of our friends/family who aren’t connected to Jesus will consider coming to church and talking about Jesus during the holidays. We want to capitalize on this God-given opportunity for the glory of Jesus and the good of our loved ones.
Below are some resources we hope you will find helpful for further reading:
Come Thou Long Expected Jesus - edited by Nancy Guthrie and including works by John Piper, R. Kent Hughes, Tim Keller, Charles Spurgeon, etc.
Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room – a family Advent Devotional written by Nancy Guthrie
Prepare Him Room – a family Advent Devotional written by Marty Machowski
The Dawning of Indestructible Joy: Daily Readings for Advent – by John Piper (he also has another book of Advent readings titled Good News of Great Joy that is available as a FREE download)
Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas – by Ann Voskamp
We hope you find one or more of these resources to be beneficial!