When I was a kid, I didn’t really understand why we would light the candles each week leading up to Christmas. I viewed it in much the same way as my waxy chocolate calendar – a countdown to presents! Those little numbered cardboard doors opening each day just meant we were one day closer. You could taste the anticipation! (If only it tasted like actual chocolate…)
It wasn’t until a few years ago that I realized the purpose of advent. Advent, which is a term meaning ‘coming,’ is a time to anticipate the coming of our Lord to this earth. I learned that it was a time of preparing and a time of contemplation. I learned that it’s a time of readying our heart before the Lord for the celebration of the arrival of His Son, Jesus, to this earth. It’s a time to refocus and live out our faith in a season where culture often teaches that it’s about glitz and glitter and stuff and more. It’s a time to set apart, to clear away all that entangles. To open a space in our hearts for what this season is really all about.
What I love most about practicing advent is the intentionality of it. When we take time each day to read scripture, setting aside time to study the events leading up to Jesus’ birth. When we pray, and yes, even light the candles, it changes the whole dynamic of the season.
Less and More
For us, it becomes less about a count down to presents and more about a slow building of joy in our hearts to celebrate the miraculous birth. It becomes less a time of stress and performance and having all of the baked things baked, and reminds us every single day (because we need reminding every. single. day) that it’s not about all of that. It’s about “the more” our hearts crave… it’s about a child born to die for us. And when that becomes the focus, well, let’s just say it changes things more than a little.
Not sure how to start? Gail Rodgers has a great advent series you could try. Just pick it up at whatever week of December you are in, or do a few candles all at once to catch up. The kids will love that!