When I was praying in November about what topic to work on next with God, I realised Advent was fast approaching, and now was the perfect time to prepare a special time of Advent for this year.

For a lot of the world, the word Advent is only associated with the Advent Calendar. At this time of year, we begin the count down to Christmas with a daily reward of chocolate (or even more recently, the adult alternatives of various alcohols, beauty products or hot drink selections). Which is special in itself.

However, for Christian believers, Advent comes way before the emergence of counting down with a daily surprise gift.

When does Advent start?

If asked when Advent begins – the typical answer is the 1st of December/ December 1st (depending on where in the world you are). But, for us Christian in faith, Advent starts the 4th Sunday before Christmas day.

Historically, the first mention of Advent occurred around the 300’sAD during a meeting of the church leaders called The Council of Sargossa. Since then, it’s gradually developed into a season stretching the whole month of December. For denominations favouring liturgical prayers – there are special ones for each day of Advent.

This year, 2021, Advent is one of its most extended times since it’s 28 days starting from 28th November (as the 4th Sunday before Christmas). If you didn’t realise this, don’t worry. You can start today 🙂

What does the word Advent mean?

The word Advent comes from the Latin word adventus, meaning coming, which translates the Greek word parousia, a combination of 2 Greek words, “para,” which means with, alongside. + “ousia”, which means being, which is derived from “pareimi”, meaning to be present or to be nearby or to have come. 

Thus parousia conveys the thought of arrival (Advent or coming) of a person to a place. It also includes the idea that their presence will only happen after a particular event occurs. There are 24 times in the New Testament where the word “parousia” is mentioned. 

For more on this, see: https://www.preceptaustin.org/2_peter_115-18#coming

What does Advent mean to me?

I don’t want Advent to just be December = getting busier and busier as we prepare for special times with friends and church activities. Not to mention the extra uncertainty of whether I can even go back to Scotland to have Christmas with family this year or not. (The joy’s of a new COVID strain!). Or to be working out all the things I need to do to buy gifts, write cards and the stress of adding in extra to a normal full workload. 

This year, I want to take time. Extra time to be with God, personally and with others. To appreciate what the bible tells us of Jesus’s coming, how the different characters in the Christmas story hear and respond to the message of Jesus’s coming. And to then imagine what it would be like to have Jesus come today. 

As well as how do I share the beautiful love story of our Heavenly Father giving His son Jesus so we can have our intimate relationship with Him fully restored. Who can I tell the wonder and truth of the Jesus at Christmas who needs the love of Christ in their lives? In continued times of uncertainty, the world needs a trustworthy hope they can depend on. His name is Jesus. 

In essence, Advent means to me, a special time of preparation. To reflect and remember the whole story around Jesus’ coming. And to appreciate the joy and hope we have with God.

How? Inwardly to meditate on what scriptures tell us of Jesus’ coming and where I need to realign myself with God’s heart. And outwardly, to practically prepare to celebrate Jesus’ arrival. To take time with friends to celebrate, remember and share together in the life we have with Christ. To celebrate that Jesus came to be a light in the darkness and model to us what it means to be in a relationship with our Heavenly Father. 

How can you celebrate Advent this year?

There are many ways to do it, all depending on your preference of denomination or style. I am doing it two ways. 

If you’d like to do a little something daily – then you can join me on Instagram or Facebook, where at 8 am each morning, I’ll post a scripture and thought for the day. 

Then on Sundays, I join a friend whose tradition is to light the wreath’s candle, then share a thought and prayer together. 

Even though I wrote the daily advent series, I’m blessed to retake time each day on the topic and hear some friends thoughts as they’re joining me too. 

To add, I do love to have a physical advent calendar as well. This year, I’m pinning up each advent post on strings in our training centre dinning room so we can share it together. But I may also treat myself to a little chocolate each day too to enjoy the sweet goodness of this Christmas season too 🙂

Further reading for you to go deeper

There is a mountain of information and articles relating to Advent available to us now. So if you’d like to go into further detail about the symbolism of the Advent Wreath, What the different means behind the lighting of coloured candles on Sundays are… then here are some good ones to check out:

Crosswalk: Advent, wreath…

What Is Christmas? Understanding History, Origin and Traditions

Advent Prayers

The History and Meaning of the Advent Calendar

I’d love to hear what Advent means to you and what you’re doing in preparation for Christmas this year. So please message me, or add a comment here or on my social media pages. The beauty of sharing means we can be an encouragement to one another too.

If you’d like a printable PDF copy then click here: 28 days of Advent pdf.