“No priest, no theologian stood at the cradle of Bethlehem. And yet, all Christian theology finds its beginnings in the miracle of miracles, that God became human.” -Dietrich Bonhoeffer
I loved Christmas as a child.
Jingle Bells was my jam.
Frosty was my #rideordie.
And shredding wrapping paper was my gift.
When I hit my early 20s, the season started to lose its luster. The gifts and parties and Christmas movie marathons suddenly didn’t feel as magical anymore.
As a kid, I’d go to bed on Christmas Eve filled with so much anticipation I thought my bladder would burst. As an adult, I’d go to bed on Christmas Eve exhausted; dreading the full holiday schedule waiting for me the next day.
When I was young, Christmas brought all of these exciting things I hoped to receive. Gifts I had circled in magazines months earlier. Movies I wanted to watch but couldn’t find. People I wanted to see who lived far away.
And then adulthood brought me this strange blessing to make things happen.
- I didn’t have to wait to get the gift I really wanted for Christmas anymore.
I could go out and buy it for myself.
- I didn’t have to wait for Christmas movies to start running on TBS.
I could stream any Christmas movie whenever I felt like it.
- I didn’t have to wait to see people.
I had FaceTime and Instagram.
I was blessed with this ability to get what I wanted when I wanted it. And I let it rob me of my capacity to wait.
It turned out that the waiting I hated so much as a kid was the fuel that had stoked my affection and excitement. Without it, I lost the eager expectation Christmas once brought — replaced by church services, family obligations, mall parking lots, and endless holiday sales. Until I found an Advent Devotional from Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
After discovering Advent, I felt the excitement of Christmas come back. Only now, it was fuller. I wasn’t just expecting trinkets and sugary snacks. I was eagerly anticipating the arrival of the Christ Child.
I need Advent in my life. For me, it’s a lifeline back to the awe and wonder of the true meaning of Christmas.
What is Advent?
The word advent comes from the Latin word ‘adventus’ which means ‘coming’ or ‘arrival’. While it’s origins aren’t exactly clear, it’s been celebrated since at least the 4th century. It’s a time (beginning the fourth Sunday before Christmas) on the church calendar set aside to examine the 3 ‘advents’ or ‘arrivals’ of Christ. They are:
1. The Arrival of Christ in Bethlehem.
Advent invites me to imagine what it would be like if I was alive before Jesus was born in Bethlehem. How desperate would I be for the coming Messiah? How would my life change when I hear of His arrival?
2. The Advent of Christ in My Heart.
Advent also invites me to think about the impact of Jesus’ arrival in my own life. How has His coming shaped and molded who I am today? How has He changed me? And as a result, how am I meant to help bring change to others?
3. The Arrival of Christ Through The Clouds.
Lastly, Advent is an invitation to think, pray, and look forward to the day when Christ returns. Just like Israel waited for His 1st arrival, we now await His 2nd arrival.
Only this time, we don’t wait for a Babe in a Manger. We wait for a King who will split the clouds and fix all of the brokenness in the world.
I love the Advent season because it provides space for me to appreciate Jesus’ coming in the midst of one of the busiest seasons of the year. For me, it’s a small window, every day, through which I can look out and remember the promises of God.
How Does Advent Work?
Advent begins Sunday, (December 3) and runs every day up until Christmas Eve. People observe Advent many different ways. For most, they find a good devotional and intentionally set aside time each day to read Scripture and work through the material.
If you have an Advent devotional already, I suggest you dust it off and dig in.
If you’re in the market to purchase an Advent devotional, I highly recommend Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s “God Is In The Manger.”
If you don’t have an Advent devotional and don’t want to purchase one, I’m going to be sending out the Advent devotional I wrote a couple years back, for free via email. Just click HERE: Paul’s 2017 Advent Devotional or sign up using the form below.
Whether you choose to journey through Advent with me or not, my hope and prayer for you is that you would find a renewed sense of expectation, peace, and hope in Christ through the Advent season.
soli deo gloria
If you’re wondering how my Advent devotional works, it’s simple. Once you sign up, you’ll receive a devotional in your email the next morning. You’ll get one each day at 5:45 am until Christmas Day.
Each devotional has a Scripture to read, a short explanation of the text, and a prompt to think and pray through.