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Preparing for His Arrival

One of the joys of Christmas is the arrival of special guests.  It may be a son or daughter, sister or brother who has been away at college or in the military.  It could be a favorite aunt or uncle who has flown in for the holidays.  Friends might be coming over to share a holiday dinner.  Whoever it is, you anticipate the arrival of your guests and prepare yourself and your home for their coming.  And finally, when you hear the doorbell or the knock on your door, you jump up, eager to welcome your loved ones into your hearts and home.

It’s that spirit and emotion that are at the heart of Advent, a way of celebrating Christmas that may be unfamiliar to some people.  You might be aware of Advent but don’t know a lot about what it means or what you’re supposed to do about it.

The word Advent literally means coming or arrival.  When it comes to Christmas, it has to do with the coming or Jesus Christ.  It’s that period of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the events surrounding the birth of Jesus.

If Advent is a new concept for you, don’t feel bad.  In fact, be glad that you are discovering something that can help bring the true meaning of Christmas to you and your family in a fresh way.  Rather than going through the Christmas season in a frenzy, pausing for just one day to contemplate and celebrate the Savior’s birth, you have the opportunity to take more time to prepare your heart and mind for the arrival of Jesus into the world.

Traditionally, there are two ways to celebrate Advent.  One way is to anticipate the coming of Christ on the four Sundays leading up to Christmas Day by lighting a different Advent candle each Sunday.  Each candle represents a different aspect of the Christmas story.  One tradition follows four different people of Christmas:  the prophets, Mary, the angels and the shepherds.  Another tradition emphasizes four different emotions of Christmas:  hope, peace, love and joy.

Whether you follow the people or the emotions of Christmas, the way you celebrate Advent is to simply light a candle on each of the four Sundays before Christmas and think about what it represents.  If you are doing this with your family, you can share the meaning of Christmas together and talk about why the prophets are part of the story, or why Christmas inspired hope.  With either tradition, there is always a fifth candle, called a “Christ candle,” that is lit on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day to signify Christ’s birth.

Another way to celebrate Advent is with the Advent calendar.  There’s nothing sacred about the calendar itself (just as there’s nothing sacred about the candles), but like the candles, a calendar can help you think about the sacred.  The idea behind the Advent calendar is to mark off each day of December leading up to Christmas.  As you would expect, Advent calendars have 24 spaces or boxes, each one containing a special image of a person, symbol, or emotion of Christmas.

Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of the Advent celebration—whether you use candles or a calendar or both—is that it reminds us that the coming of Christ into the world is not something that happened just once in the past.  It tells us that Christ continues to come into our world in the present through the lives of people who choose to follow Him.  And it also reminds us that Jesus is coming again in the future in the Second Advent.

Just as we delight in preparing for the arrival of special guests to our physical home, we need to be about the business of preparing for the arrival of the most special Guest of all.

Excerpt from God Is in the Small Stuff at Christmas by Bruce Bickel and Stan Jantz.

Comments

You could certainly see your enthusiasm in the paintings you write. The arena hopes for even more passionate writers like you who are not afraid to say how they believe. All the time follow your heart. régime rapide

No one really knows when he is coming, so always ready for his coming, maybe he will come later, tomorrow or next month. - Casa Sandoval

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Stan's entire life has been wrapped in content: selling, writing and publishing books and resources that help ordinary people capture a glimpse of extraordinary things.