Advent · Books · Christmas · Jesus' Birth · Jesus' Coming · Nativity

Why Celebrate Advent?

Cornerstone has celebrated Advent for several years. There is a decline in modern America to no longer celebrate this religious tradition, therefore, the meaning is beginning to be lost. I would like to explain what Advent is, why we celebrate it, and some practical ways to celebrate it with family, friends and neighbors.

”Advent” is a Latin word, adventus, which means the arrival of a notable person, thing or event.  The term itself isn’t religious, but can be used in several conversations. We may say something like, “the advent of technology.” We mean that something of worth noting has come to us that we did not have before.

For the Christian, the idea of Advent focuses on the  arrival of Jesus. Specifically, as it is celebrated at Christmas time, it is the time where we celebrate the coming of the promised Messiah as the baby Jesus. It is interesting to note, however, that the Latin word adventus is a translation of the Greek word parousia which is often used to refer to the second coming of Christ.

One difficulty in understanding Advent is that it is celebrated in different ways by different Christian denominations. Of course the Julian calendar is different from the Russian calendar, so the dates of celebration are different, but the focus is still the same.

The way we celebrate at Cornerstone includes celebrating the arrival of Jesus’ birth the four Sundays before Christmas. Some years  Advent starts in November and others in December. Each week has a different theme. Different churches celebrate different themes, but most use Hope, Love, Joy and Peace. The final week of course celebrates Christ’s birth.

How do we celebrate Advent at Cornerstone? Each week we expound upon the theme. So if the first week is hope, we sings songs about hope, I speak on the topic of hope, and we have Scripture reading with passages about hope. We also light a candle each week on what is called an Advent wreath, representing each theme, which also holds five candles. So the first week we light a candle as a symbol of the eternal and earthly hope we have because Jesus came to Earth. The final week for our Christmas service, we light a candle in the middle of the wreath representing Jesus Christ Himself.

Sometimes we distribute Advent guides. If it’s a year that we publish one you may be able to find one at our church or in our local newspaper, The Forest City News. The guide allows people to celebrate Advent at home with friends, neighbors or relatives and can usually be enjoyed in about 15 minutes every week. It provides readings, music, Scripture and prayers in conjunction with that week’s theme. Some of our members get together in groups to celebrate Advent in their homes with other people from the church while adding games and meals to the celebration.

There are many ways to celebrate Advent in your home. Some people use an Advent calendar, others have their own Advent wreath. My small family enjoys using the Advent guide weekly with the kids. It helps us keep focused during the crazy holiday season. Others may celebrate by putting up specific themed decorations that concur with the weekly theme. Some read through an advent devotional, such as John Piper’’s  The Dawning of Indestructible Joy: Daily Readings for Advent. This is a great way to spend five minutes a day during the holidays helping you focus on the real reason for the season.

However you celebrate Advent, I hope you will take time to focus on the real meaning of Christmas this year. We can easily be distracted with things, which may even be good, but are not focused on the coming of Jesus to Earth as the Savior of our sins. May you have a Merry Christmas.

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Books for Advent Devotionals and Readings

“Come, Let Us Adore Him” by Paul David Tripp

“The Dawning of Indestructible Joy” by John Piper

“Good News of Great” by John Piper

“Joy Upon Joy” Charles Spurgeon

“God is in the Manger” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus” by Nancy Guthrie and Kent Hughes

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