Sunday, November 29, 2015

Advent: Anticipating His Arrival

So what is "Advent" and why is it important?

advent noun
a coming into place, view, or being; arrival: the advent of the holiday season.
(usually initial capital letterthe coming of Christ into the world.
(initial capital letterthe period beginning four Sundays before Christmas, observed in commemoration of the coming of Christ into the world.
As you can see from the dictionary definition, Advent is an anticipation of the arrival of Christ--His coming to the world to be our Savior. This time of reflection, often 4 weeks long, is a believer's conscious effort to focus on Christ, his coming, and the miraculous way that affects our hearts and lives, leading up to the actual celebration of His birth. Growing up, I thought Advent was solely a Catholic tradition. I now understand the point. It's not about tradition at all! Rather, it's about taking time in this busy season to focus on the real REASON FOR THE SEASON!

Life around the holidays is so busy, so why is Advent important? Can't we just focus on family and preparation and all the things that make us feel warm and fuzzy during the holidays? After all, we do read Luke 2 on Christmas day before tearing open our gifts!?

Every year I think "certainly the world can't ignore the true meaning of Christmas any more than this year..." and then the next year comes. I'm only 26, but it seems like the world is progressively and rapidly moving away from why we celebrate this season. It's become all about "stuff" and getting...Christmas morning, Facebook is going to be FILLED with "look what I got...isn't my parent/husband/friend the greatest!" We've allowed media and retailers to blind us with their fancy store displays, removal of nativity scenes in public places, and shiny lights that have been up since Halloween. 

In a world that is trying to forget Christ and His life-changing birth, it isn't surprising that the world basically skipped over Thanksgiving. Black Friday deals started WEEKS early. As consumers, we barely had time to sit and scarf down some turkey before returning to the stores and internet to make sure we "didn't miss a deal." I know that there are some excellent deals out there this time of year, and I am a deal-lover let me tell ya, but this year I made a conscious effort to say, "no" and focus on what I have. Sure I want to go buy Christmas decorations, new sweaters, boots (the boot deals were killing me this year!), but this year I said, "no." I didn't spend a penny, and tried to focus on thanking God for the beautiful decorations I have, the closet full of clothes I have, and the wonderful times spent with family. I don't say this to boast, but I'm saying, choosing to focus on Christ during this Christmas time of the year, can actually be very difficult if we aren't intentional and focused.

It's sooooo easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle, which is why we must make a conscious effort to remember why we celebrate Christmas. Don't get me wrong, the family time, memories, gift giving is all wonderful and fun, but we get way too caught up in these things being Christmas to us.

There are many Advent studies out there. Check out one of the options below, or do your own. Take time each day over the next few weeks to just dwell on Christ and what Christmas means to you. If Christmas didn't happen (not December 25, but the birth of Christ!), our lives would be devastatingly different. We would be desolate, lost, and without hope. Because of Christ, EVERYTHING IS DIFFERENT! 

Consider participating in one of the following studies this year:

If you have another study you love, I'd love to hear about it! Wishing you a wonderful Christmas season full of thoughtfulness, hope, joy, worship, and love, remembering that Christ came to this earth for you and for me. He is our eternal Hope!

Wishing you a life-changing Advent as you focus on Him and all He means to you,

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