We’ve mostly ditched Christmas. Because of the increase in materialism, not because we’ve become Scrooges. Finding true meaningful spirituality among the commercial trappings became more and more challenging. So for several years we did little during the holidays.
Then I started looking at Advent. And I found what I call the missing piece of Christmas. Because Advent highlights the Gospel’s eschatological aspects. “But what does that mean?” you might be wondering.
Well, eschatology, simply put, is the part of theology concerned with the end times or last things. We could consider it a complicated way of stating our belief that more (and the best) is yet to come. So Advent, by including this perspective, both enriches and completes Christmas.
Advent is a triple celebration
Because the story does not end with Christmas!
Advent means coming or arrival. But it’s far more than a mere celebration, Advent emphasizes the threefold aspect of Christ’s coming:
- His first arrival when he came into the world in Bethlehem as Israel’s promised Messiah.
- His current coming into hearts and lives today as Lord and Savior.
- His promised return when he will come in glorious power as King of kings and Lord of lords.
And it thereby creates a season of giving thanks for Christ’s first coming as Savior of the world, while also joyfully awaiting his second coming. And reminding us to consecrate our hearts as the Lord’s present dwelling place.
Did you think of Advent as simply a calendar with doors or boxes containing tiny gifts to open? A countdown to Christmas with still another gift-receiving focus? I did and so never paid it much mind. Until I discovered its rich connotations.
I love the monumental significance of Christmas: Emmanuel, or God with us. But the Christmas holiday, season with all its modern-day snares, left an incomplete, dissatisfied feeling.
Because the story doesn’t end with Christmas!
More (and the best) is yet to come! And the Advent season focuses on that. On the one thing we most long for – Christ’s soon-coming return.
The story of Christmas is just the beginning. More (and the best) is yet to come!Tweet
Stress and pressure often beset the busy modern-day Christmas. But Advent, by centering around four candle-lighting devotional times, encourages us to slow down and focus on what Christmas really means.
On each of the four Sundays preceding Christmas one candle on the advent wreath is lit. Until by the final Sunday before Christmas all four are lit. Followed by the center candle on Christmas Day. Each candle, along with chosen songs, reflective prayer, and Scripture readings concentrates on the rich truths of the hope, faith, joy, and peace we have in Christ.
Advent can infuse your holiday with fresh spiritual vitality, anticipation, hope, and joy. So start enriching your holidays with the beauty of Advent!
Check out these Advent ideas and devotionals to start preparing for next year.
- Lifeway Christian Resources, with family craft suggestions
- Discipleship Ministries
- Mercy Home
Merry Christmas, Happy Advent, and Marantha to you all – from Italy!
White candle by Myriam Zilles | Nativity scene by Gareth Harper | Bible scenes by LUMO Project (Big Book Media); all rights reserved, educational use only – all from FreeBibleImages.org. | Advent wreath by KaLisa Veer.
18 thoughts on “Advent: the Missing Piece of Christmas”
Buon Natala Signora. Merry CHRISTmas Ms. Sheila. God’s blessings dear friend.
Hope you had a Buon Natale too, JD. And that the rest of the holiday season will be rich in blessings to you and yours, my friend!
I appreciate that the lighting of the Advent wreath highlights anticipation–not for Christmas Day so much, but for Christ’s 2nd coming. I’m thinking our excitement at the celebration of the Marriage Feast of the Lamb will be many times elevated above our excitement for the celebration of Christmas!
You’re probably right, Nancy. Which means that our excitement will be immense! I love Christmas. But being with Jesus. It leaves me speechless!!
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Again, a rereading of a significant post lends itself to reminding me of Jesus and the bigger picture of His whole life. Not just Him in a manger, but Him in our lives. Thanks, Sheila!
Thank you, dear friend! The bigger picture. I like that – after all Jesus IS the bigger picture!!
Thank you, Kelly. I’m so glad to have discovered Advent. It really has brought new depth and understanding to Christmas for me. He has come, is with us, and will soon return! That’s worth celebrating!
Sheila, Thank you for this beautiful reflection upon Advent and Christmas. In the month of December, I focus upon the prophecies and the birth of Jesus and all the surrounding stories, but long ago, I stopped my focus on the candles and Advent as a tradition. I plan to relook at Advent from your perspective next time. Thank you for enlightening us all. May Christmas abound in many blessings to you and your family. Merry Christmas! Karen
Thanks Karen. I love your idea of focusing on the prophecies and birth of Christmas too. That would make a wonderful Advent focus. One could do readings on the prophecies of Christ’s birth, on his actual birth, and on his second coming. And with or without the candles, I love the fact that Advent can help us reclaim an eternal Kingdom mentality. Christ is coming soon! I hope you have a wonderful holiday! God bless and take care.
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Merry Christmas Sheila!
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Wow! You’ve nailed this one, my dear. The beauty and serenity and quiet of Advent is the polar opposite of the loud and busy of Christmas. And I love the part about the calendar with boxes or door and little treats–it’s what we’ve reduced Christmas to be. Thanks for this beautifully insightful reminder of what really needs to be our focus. And again, Merry Christmas from the Sunshine State!
I find that the more times passes, the more I seem to long for quiet and serenity. Perhaps it’s aging. But I think it’s more that these things are not prevalent in today’s society. I’d hate to turn Christmas into nothing more than a mad rush to get everything done, while missing what God may have for me in this period. What is he saying? Who does he want me to reach out? Or even just finding time to thank and worship him! Buon Natale from Italy, Dayle!
Yes, there is a great deal of meaning in Advent as we reflect on Christ’s coming. As you said so well, Advent comes in past, present and future tense. Jesus came, is coming, and will come.
Thanks David. What a marvelous truth! And what an encouragement as we walk this difficult world! Merry Christmas!
Hi Sheila, When we returned from Italy we went to a Lutheran church for a few years. I absolutely loved the lighting of the Advent candles in church. The pastor would light one candle, then two, then three, four and also the middle one (the Christ candle), and each time he would remind us of what each candle represented. It was a lovely celebration!
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That’s awesome, Anita! We’ve never actually gotten to attend an Advent service, but I’m sure it would be beautiful! I think what appeals to me about it is that there seems to be a quieter, more reflective spirit to it. Something that often seems to lacking in our lives these days. Do you guys celebrate Advent at home?