What is Advent?

How do I prepare?

People across the world are familiar with Christmas, or at least a popularized version of it. Much of the world celebrates Christmas with family, presents, an evergreen tree, decorations, peppermint, and talk of a man in a red suit. Others focus more on celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, singing Christmas carols, and going to church with the family. And others celebrate with a combination of many of these elements.

But what about Advent?

Advent means “coming”. There are two aspects: preparation and anticipation. Reflective preparation for Christmas and the anticipation of the expected return of Christ in his second coming. Let’s look at preparation this week.


Many people begin their preparation for Christmas even before December begins. The stores around Franklin certainly want you to start shopping for Christmas the moment that Halloween has completed. “But what about Thanksgiving?” you may ask – and I have asked – but that’s a question for another day. However, this is not the kind of preparation that Advent is about.

Advent preparation is a time to reflect on who you are. To ask the questions:

  • Have you been “good” this year?
  • Would God be pleased with how you have conducted yourself?
  • Have your served your husband, wife, child, friends, manager, etc well this year?
  • Do your failures mean that you don’t deserve blessings from them or from God?

I can’t answer those questions for you. But I think you should ask them. God cares about the state of your heart.

In advent, we prepare our hearts for the coming of Christ. He has already come 2000 years ago. He was born to the virgin Mary. He lived. He died on a cross for your failures and your sin. He was raised from the dead. And he’s coming again.

We remember the first coming of Jesus and we celebrate. We see and remember our failures, but our failures are not bigger than his mercy. Because Jesus came, we can have forgiveness through his death and resurrection.

“The celebration of Advent is possible only to those who are troubled in soul, who know themselves to be poor and imperfect, who look forward to something greater to come.” — Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Stay tuned for next week, where we look at Anticipating.