‘Tis the Season for Holiday Cheer. Starbucks has options when it comes to their bags, cups + other branded materials. In-N-Out (Hello California) has those jolly little bags with the holly + you almost can’t walk into any business without hearing the sound of bells on the door. Advent calendars surround us when we walk into stores. There are various sorts including chocolate, toys, devotional plans, cards, books + even plans on the Bible app. It makes me laugh just a little bit because yes, we are marking down the days until Christmas, but I wonder if we haven’t lost the meaning altogether as we shove our daily chocolate in our mouth + mark one more day off the calendar…I wonder if we haven’t actually lost the point + meaning of the word ‘Advent.’
Advent itself is defined as the coming into being or the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event. We more commonly use the term to describe the original first season of the Christian church year, marking the four Sundays before Christmas, celebrating the advent, or the arrival of the Christchild.
Personally, this Advent season has been more meaningful than any before, with the prayer that His renewal, the celebration of His first coming, would be alive for me in this season. Yes, you read that right. I did write “alive for me”, not alive in me – it’s not a typo. See, the celebration of Advent every year is more than just the lights, as we all know, but it’s also more than just celebrating His life, it’s the celebration of the renewal of the Hope of Salvation. Both for the Jews back in the Biblical times, + also for us today. When we celebrate the birth of a baby born to save the world, we are celebrating the renewal of something that was dead, + is now alive through His birth + crucifixion. So yes, the prayer that his renewal would be alive for me in this season makes Advent more personal.
In Isaiah 9:6-7, we see the prophecy go forth
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; + the government shall be upon his shoulder,
his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government + of peace there will be no end,
on the throne of David + over his kingdom, to establish it + to uphold it with justice,
with righteousness from this time forth + forevermore.”
We’ve all heard Isaiah 9:6 multiple times over, but I think sometimes we forget the strength of the words of the next verse. “Of the increase of his government + of peace there will be no end…” This is the Advent we still celebrate today. That the Kingdom of Christ, in us, the body, continues forevermore. That His peace, the Advent, the arrival of peace with His birth is unending…in grief, in moments of weakness, in celebration + in joy…His peace is unending, + it continues to increase.
I wonder what Christmas would mean to us if we saw in the manger not only a baby born in a stable, but if we also saw a man crucified on a cross just thirty three years later. We have the whole story, but sometimes we just celebrate a part of it…+ in doing so, it feels as if we miss the entirety, the power, + the strength of the Advent season:
- The Advent of Christ meant the ending of an era in the Jewish faith, + also the beginning of a new season of HOPE in the world at large.
- The Advent of Christ meant the end of blood sacrifice was drawing near, + a new form of living under grace + law was soon to come.
- The Advent of Christ meant the birth of a baby who would die for the world.
- The Advent of Christ marks the beginning of the modern Apostolic church.
- The Advent of Christ means that you + I get to live in the increase of His peace year after year.
- The Advent of Christ means that in our greatest defeat His strength is able to shine strongest.
- The Advent of Christ means that our moments of highest delight is when His work of creation is most glorified.
- The Advent of Christ means that in our moments of deepest sorrow, His love is most powerful.
If we celebrate the Advent in the most meaningful way possible, allowing this season to be one of renewal + hope, I think the Christmas lights will seem brighter. Our time together will be sweeter + our conversations more meaningful. Allowing Advent, the celebration of arrival, to sink into our hearts in the most reverent + intentional of ways.
My pervasive prayer this year has been for an increased conviction by His love. For a greater desire to live in courageous honesty in both the beauty + the messiness of my faith journey + to encourage others in the process. Not to just enjoy the festivities of the season, but that in my heart, in my spirit, there would be a renewed sense of meaning, of purpose, of love for my neighbor, + that the love of God would live deep inside of me.
To truly be able to live the words of the old Christmas Carol:
God rest ye merry gentlemen
Let nothing you dismay
Remember Christ our Savior
Was born on Christmas Day
To save us all from Satan’s pow’r
When we were gone astray
Oh tidings of comfort + joy
Comfort + joy
Oh tidings of comfort + joy
I was at Disneyland this last weekend and there was a very special Candlelight Processional + Ceremony with a celebrity narrator of the Christmas story. I was struck by the words he chose to close with and want to share them in closing to this post:
“There are a lot of traditions and many ways to celebrate this wonderful season and however you choose to do so,
I hope you find your lives renewed with meaning and purpose.
So let’s embrace everyone of our tomorrows with hope and love and with this holiday spirit and spread peace and goodwill throughout the world.
Thank you and Merry, Merry Christmas.”
Similar to the celebrity who spoke these words, my prayer for you in this season is that you find your life renewed with meaning and purpose as well.
What is your prayer during this celebration of Advent of renewal? What do you hope to renew in your spirit in this season? Leave a reply in the comments below!