A Future Hope
Why We Celebrate Advent
By Josh Byers
Like most kids growing up in the ’80s and ’90s, I had one wish for Christmas – a Nintendo.
Unfortunately for me, that wish was never granted, and I was forced to suffer through the pain and disgrace of a Marioless childhood.
The funny thing is that I always knew it was a hopeless wish. I never actually believed I would open that long, rectangular box on Christmas morning and be greeted with the glorious image of the futuristic gray console, two control pads, a zapper gun, and included game cartridge. I never really had a hope that action and entertainment would be in my future. Why?
For me, it was simple. Every request was met with a firm, but kind, “no.” And never once had my parents given me the slightest hint that they would change their minds.
Everything I had experienced and knew about the past informed my assurance of the future.
Now, that statement isn’t unique to this situation or a thousand others. We draw assurance for the future based on what has happened in the past. And that is precisely what makes the celebration of Advent special.
Advent gives us hope and assurance to look forward because of what God has done in the past.
What is Advent?
Since the word means “coming,” Advent is a Christian celebration of both the first coming (or incarnation) of Christ and the hope of His future return.
In the western church, the four Sundays before Christmas constitute the season of Advent. The eastern church begins celebrating in mid-November. We don’t know precisely when the church started celebrating Advent, but many believe this unique celebration season started as early as the fourth century.
Ultimately, Advent is a celebration of God’s grand rescue plan. We rejoice in the birth of Christ and point to it as a reminder that God’s plan is still continuing.
How do we celebrate Advent?
There are many ways that people celebrate Advent. Some count down the days by doing something special each day. Some use an Advent wreath and light a new candle in the wreath at the beginning of each week. Others pray specifically or sing songs that celebrate the birth and second coming of Jesus. There is no one way to celebrate that is better than another. The big idea is to find something unique that works for your family and points them to remember Jesus.
Why should we celebrate Advent?
First, it should be said that we see no mandate in Scripture to practice specific festivals – including Advent. However, we do see God placing special events and seasons in the lives of His people. These were designed to help them remember the blessings He has given His children and point them to the promises yet to come. We want to do the same.
Additionally, celebrating Advent on a weekly or daily basis allows us to focus on what matters during a season bombarded with materialism and busyness. It enables us to step back, be quiet, and remember everything God has given. Ultimately, Advent points us specifically to Jesus and encourages us to look forward to an eternity with Him.
If you’re wondering, I was right, and I never got that Nintendo as a kid. But what I did get (among lots of other fun presents) was a family that built celebrations around remembering the birth of Jesus and parents that pointed me to look and be ready for His return.