Advent, like the other seasons of the Christian year, is intended to do more than provide a color code for Sunday service vestments, but to shape the daily pattern of our lives. There are a variety of traditions related to the celebration of Advent for individuals, couples, and families. The most well known is the use of an Advent wreath and the lighting of that wreath, usually at the principal meal of the day, accompanied by a prayer (for more ways you or your family can observe Advent click here and here).
Traditionally, Advent is a time marked by silence, quiet reflection, as well as service to others in preparation for the great feast of Christmas. In our North American culture this time of year is marked by the exact opposite: noise, stress, and self-indulgence (if you’re sick of this dichotomy, join the Advent Conspiracy by clicking here). Observing Advent requires a willingness to be different than our co-workers, families, and friends. Observing Advent requires a willingness to say, “I’m not ready to celebrate Christmas yet, I have to prepare first.” Advent is not about squashing holiday fun, but about capturing the deeper joy, the deeper meaning, and the deeper power of Christmas. In addition, Advent causes us not only to recall the events of Bethlehem, but to consider the future as it relates to the return of our King, and whether we are ready for Him to return or not.
I want to leave you with the words of Father Tony Clavier, an Episcopal priest, who offers some good advice related to this time of year, and to the season of Advent: “We perhaps moan about a secularized Christmas that begins before Thanksgiving and ends abruptly on the day after Christmas. Rather than moaning we can meet the challenge it presents. We can be subversive by keeping Advent in holy preparation.”