Why we observe Advent and how to join the journey
Christmas is often the most celebrated occasion of the year. Wrapped up in the usual sights, sounds and smells of the season (colorful lights, jingle bells and peppermint hot chocolate, anyone?) is the wonder, mystery and excitement of God sending his only Son, Jesus, to our world.
Instead of waiting until Dec. 25 to truly celebrate the gift that God has given us, what if we took more time to sit with the story of Christmas? What if we made our way slowly through the season, making more of the reality of who Jesus is as our source of hope, peace, joy and love? What might happen if we looked forward to his arrival with increasing expectation instead of missing the moment of his arrival, thereby missing Jesus, himself?
This season, bring your family together on this 28-day journey through Advent knowing full well that the light will come.
The back story
Advent means “the arrival of a notable person, thing or event.” The Advent season guides us through four weeks of contemplation and response to the true reality of Christmas—Jesus sent to earth as a gift from God the Father. Advent invites us to know Jesus as more than a historical figure, wise teacher or good man. It invites us into the journey of knowing Jesus as The Rescue, The Remedy and The Savior of a broken world.
Of course, we weren’t always broken. It took six days for God to create a perfect world, but in just one moment, it became perfectly broken. Here’s how it happened…
As he created, God called everything he breathed into being good. And in a final flourish of creativity, from the very dust of the Earth, God formed a human shape, breathed his life into the nostrils of this form and created man. Calling us the “crown of all creation,” the very best that he saved for the very last, humankind came to be—first Adam, then Eve. Genesis 1:26 tell us that God made humanity in his perfect image, creating both male and female. At that moment in time, creation wasn’t just good, it was perfect. Nothing was wrong, nothing was out of place.
God gave Adam and Eve a home called Eden, a beautiful garden bursting at the seams with life, beauty and living creatures of every kind. He instructed them to care for the land and everything in it…and to stay away from just one tree: The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. (That’s a mouthful.)
You might know how this story goes. A snake enters the narrative. Crafty, cunning, sneaky and slithering, this serpent disrupts the perfect peace of The Garden: “Did God really say you can’t eat from that tree?” (Gen. 3:1). The question, though seemingly harmless, introduced an idea to Eve, something she’s never considered before: God is withholding something from me.
Doubt entered the picture.
As the rest of the story unfolds, Eve becomes enticed to taste the one fruit God wasn’t giving her. Then Adam tries it. And everything changed. Shalom is broken, perfect peace and perfect relationship with God is tainted by disobedience. Suddenly, the comfort of the garden seemed uncomfortable. And Adam and Eve felt something they’d never felt before: shame.
In his love and care, God sent Adam and Eve out of The Garden. He covered them (they had been naked, but now they were embarrassed they were naked) and sent them away. A lot changed that day and the fruit of disobedience was broken friendship with God.
From that day on
Starting the day Adam and Eve left The Garden, humankind would continue to insist on doing things their way, demanding life be lived on their terms. God knew this would happen, but in his loving kindness he would always extend relationship to his people—showing them love, care and provision and giving them safe boundaries to live within. Rules don’t always seem good, but rules can keep us safe. God’s people would continue to struggle, making mistakes and poor choices all along the timeline of history…and even still today. But because he loved us more than anything in the world, he provided a new way for us to know him: Jesus.
That’s what the Advent journey is all about: Jesus. Discovering who he is, understanding why he came and spending time celebrating him not just on one day, but for the whole Christmas season.
It’s true: We celebrate Jesus’ birth in December even though we don’t really know when Jesus was born (the calendar as we know it didn’t even exist then!). Some say it made the most sense to celebrate The Light of the World (John 8:12) during the darkest days of the year as it symbolized his coming to bring light into a dark world full of sin.
And guess what? This news of the arrival of The Light of the World is still Good News today.
Get your copy of “The Light Will Come: A Family Guide to Advent” now.
- If you’re longing for a simple, unhurried approach to the season, you’re in luck. Get your copy of The Light Will Come: A 28-Day Advent Journey for Families and let it be an unexpected gift to your family to take time to savor the joy and awe of Christmas. To slow down and make room, as a family, for Jesus, the King, to come.
- Follow us on Instagram and engage in the Advent journey with us using #caringadventjourney.
- You’ve probably seen the red kettles and thrift stores, and while we’re rightfully well known for both…The Salvation Army is so much more than red kettles and thrift stores. So who are we? What do we do? Where? Right this way for Salvation Army 101.
- Listen to the Do Gooders Podcast Episode 95 How to celebrate Advent with your family this year with Lt. Erin Wikle. We’re covering what Advent is, why we recognize it and how to create a meaningful season with your family, making memories together as you set aside time to look forward to Jesus’ arrival with increasing expectation.