This week my friend Paul Burns, who once pastored a church in Nashville and now in Garland, TX posted on why we need to observe Advent.
“Advent” means “coming” or “arrival.” During the season of Advent, we celebrate Christ’s coming into the world and watch with expectant hope for his coming again. It is a four week period leading up to Christmas Day. As such, Advent is the time when we begin serious waiting for Christmas, for the birth of the child, but it is also when we think about the future the child promised and embodied and taught and lived, the kingdom of God he promised was coming but is already present in the world, if you can wait and watch patiently enough to see it.
I pass on to you Paul’s five reasons why we should observe Advent and why it has benefits for you:
1) The culture we live in has virtually no interest in Advent. You won’t find Advent Wreaths lining the shelves at Wal-Mart. Or music playing about the second coming of Christ on the radio. There’s no war on advent talk on the news shows. And this is good news because it means that it is a much more spiritually pure season.
2) Advent offers an antidote for the instant gratification bug that our culture has caught. In the midst of what has become an incredibly self-indulgent season of more, more, more, and now, now, now, advent is about patiently waiting. It is a practice of the embrace of longing. We learn to wait with growing anticipation. We make ourselves so hungry for Christ that we began to want his presence and his ways above the things of this world.
3) Advent teaches us to be at peace when the world is not. Peace comes from knowing that everything is going to be alright in the end. Christ will come. It does not mean that we are passive in the face of evil. It means that we work toward peace with the sure knowledge of success. It’s less like treading water and more like swimming knowing that the shore is near.
4) In a “need to know” world, Advent points us toward mystery. There is a reality beyond our grasp and comprehension that we brush with if we are paying attention. God is mixing and mingling with us in strange and mysterious ways. But we must be open to the possibility of things happening that we can’t and won’t understand.
5) In a world that values speed, Advent invites us to slow down. Yes, there is a time for fast action, but there is also a time to take it slow. Slowing down allows us to take stock of our lives and to consider things more carefully. It allows us to experience wonder. When we rush we miss the good stuff. Sometimes I think we are in such a hurry that we don’t even really know where we are really going. Going slow allows us to consider where we are, where we’ve come from, and where we are going.
Take a road less travelled this December and enjoy the ride!