Advent 2014 is fast approaching. This year the season is from November 30, 2014 – December 24, 2014. Traditionally Advent is a season where we focus on the second coming of Christ. His first arrival was his birth, the second arrival is when he returns to earth again. We don’t know when he will return and when asked by his disciples, he told them he did not know either, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Matthew 24:36, NIV.
Jesus left his disciples with a variety of teachings on how to live in his absence. He did his best to warn and inform the disciples of what to expect as believers and followers of his teachings. Jesus knew that faith in him and our heavenly Father would not lead to an easy life (Luke 14: 28-30). The written word tells us that we are to watch as we do not know when he will return (Matthew 24:42). The when and the how of Jesus’ return is not the main focus of our faith; what is important is how we wait. Being a believer and a follower of Christ means our waiting is active instead of passive. There is no star gazing and dreaming, it’s all about action; believing, praying, and doing, just as it was when Jesus was on earth.
What I noticed was missing from bible topics relating to Christ’s return is the word chocolate.
Maybe I’m reading a bad bible translation, just kidding! All I know is that eating chocolate everyday as a way to celebrate advent, might sound fun, but it is disrespectful to the seriousness of both the first and second advent. I’m not against chocolate, heaven knows it is one of my favourite indulgences, but I don’t think it’s appropriate for celebrating advent. If you want to enjoy chocolate every single day while counting the days until Christmas, why not call it a Christmas countdown or a name that more accurately reflects why you’re eating chocolate every single day.
I encourage families to find different, more respectful ways to celebrate advent. There are many ideas and suggestions on the internet, and in books to help stir up some creativity; but whatever you choose to do, I hope that it is honouring to Christ and our Father in heaven. I don’t want to take the fun out of the holiday season, but Advent was never meant to be a time of indulgence and merry making, which is what Christmas Day and the subsequent 12 days of Christmas is for.
This year I will be able to light my advent candles on a daily basis where I will focus on a short verse and devotional reading about the work and teachings of Jesus and the Old Testament words of God’s promises to us. I treasure this time as a way of ending the calendar year and beginning the liturgical year focused on the divine. In the years past it has helped me to have a more peaceful holiday season rather than one filled with busyness and the pressures caused by retail consumerism. I keep advent simple, adding extra tasks and large amounts of readings doesn’t draw me closer to God, it only leaves me feeling overwhelmed and time challenged.
QUESTION: How do you normally participate in the Advent season? Is it focused on God’s word and the second coming of Christ? Do you prefer to keep it fun and secular based instead of religious? Do you combine both?
ACTION: If you choose to keep the Advent season religious, prayerfully ask God what you and your family can be doing this season to remain focused on the true meaning of Advent.