As a child (and even now as a parent), I love almost everything about Christmas. But my passion for the season of Advent runs even deeper. According to the Rev. Mark D. Roberts that makes me an Adventophile – a lover of Advent (no worries though–I’ve been called worse).
Advent is fundamentally a time of comprehensive reflection. Coinciding with our Month of Presentation, it should be a time of celebration, remembrance, repentance, testimony and worship. Essentially, we are reflecting on the state of our own lives, because we know that Christ is coming back and we need to be prepared!
This is what makes Advent markedly different from the average Christmas-time preparation and celebration. You see, it’s easy to think that Christmas brings out the best in us. But you don’t have to look any further than this LA Times video and article about the recent Black Friday incidents in Georgia and Texas, to realize the absurdity of this line of thinking (and please watch the video, if for no other reason than the shock value).
If you did watch the video, then you’ve seen the worst case Christmas scenario, but even in a best case scenario, Christmas is remembered simply for the cute and cuddly baby in a manger. And frankly, that is not enough!
When we celebrate Advent (as opposed to just Christmas), the emphasis shifts away from the baby Jesus and onto our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who is promised to return! It shifts the focus off of all the Christmas trappings and causes us to aptly reflect on if we are ready for Christ’s second coming.
And when we examine our own lives in such fashion, we’re getting very close to the Scripture’s purpose in detailing the second coming of Christ. According to G.E. Ladd (who is quoting Kummel), “Jesus was not interested in depicting eschatological conditions, but in preparing men for the day of judgment.” Simply put – The authors of the Bible were concerned with whether the readers were ready for the return of Christ!
And how can we be ready, unless we take the time to examine our own spiritual growth? Understandably, this can be an unsettling and uncomfortable process as we recognize the areas in which we have fallen short. But when we come to this realization, we have the opportunity to repent, which can then lead to a very different direction for the coming year.
As we begin our month long period of reflection and celebration, we’d like to invite you to participate with us. Every week we look at the Works of Mercy and examine how they were reflected in our lives throughout the past year. If you would also like to make “reflection” and “examination” a priority, we would like to offer you our Discipleship Training Resource for the month of December at no cost to you. This booklet will help you to prayerfully reflect upon your own spiritual growth for the past year. Please feel free to e-mail me at [email protected] and I will send you a copy.
Excuses abound (this time of year) as to why we can’t take the time to examine and reflect. Christmas parties, Christmas plays, family commitments and extra responsibilities at work top the list of important holiday tasks. But I would encourage you to reorient your holiday priorities during the month of December, and in the process maybe you’ll find yourself becoming more and more of an Adventophile . . . perish the thought!