Because the story doesn’t end with Christmas!

We mostly ditched Christmas a few years ago. Not out of Scroogish tendencies, but because of the increasing materialism. Each year it became harder for us to find true meaning and spirituality among all the commercial trappings. So for several years we did little during the holidays. 

Then I started looking into Advent – and found what I think of as the missing piece of Christmas. Because Advent highlights the Gospel’s eschatological aspects. “Highlights what?” you might well ask.

Well simply put, “eschatology” theologically studies the last things or end times. We could consider it a complicated way of stating our belief that more (and the best) is yet to come. And Advent, by including this perspective, both enriches and completes Christmas.

A triple celebration, Advent means coming or arrival.

But more than a mere celebration, Advent emphasizes the threefold aspect of Christ’s coming:

  1. His first arrival into the world at Bethlehem as Israel’s promised Messiah.
  2. His current coming into hearts and lives as Lord and Savior.
  3. His promised return when he will come in glorious power as King of kings and Lord of lords.

And it thereby creates a season of giving thanks for Christ’s first coming as Savior of the world, while also joyfully awaiting his second coming. And fosters a time of keeping and preparing our hearts as his current abiding place.

Did you think of Advent as simply a calendar with doors or boxes containing tiny gifts to open? A countdown to Christmas with still another gift-receiving focus? So did I, and so never paid it much mind before learning of its rich connotations.

We love the monumental significance of Christmas: Emmanuel or God with us. But the Christmas holiday, season with all its modern-day snares, left us with an incomplete, dissatisfied feeling.

Because the story doesn’t end with Christmas!

More (and the best) is yet to come! And Advent carries the Christmas celebration forward to that! To the one thing we most long for – Christ’s soon coming return!

The story of Christmas doesn’t end with Christmas. More (and the best) is yet to come!

Stress and pressure often beset the busy modern-day Christmas. While Advent, by centering around four candle-lighting devotional times, encourages us to slow down and focus on what Christmas really means.

Beginning on the fourth Sunday before Christmas, we light the first candle of the Advent wreath, lighting an additional candle each subsequent week. Until by the last Sunday before Christmas all four are lit, along with the center candle. Each candle, along with chosen songs, reflective prayer, and Scripture readings concentrates on the rich truths of the hope, faith, joy, and peace we have in Christ.

Take some time to discover or rediscover how Advent can infuse your or your church’s holiday season with renewed spiritual vitality and joy. And who knows? After seeing how it can also restore your anticipation and hope for Christ’s second coming, you might decide to celebrate it more than once a year!

“It is only in the shadow of Advent that the miracle of Christmas can be fully understood and appreciated … the promise for Israel and the promise for the church is Jesus Christ; he has come and he will come again.”

Justin Holcolm, What is Advent?

Start enriching your holidays with the beauty of Advent!

Check out these Advent ideas and devotionals to start preparing for next year:

Merry Christmas and Happy Advent to you all!

Images: Nativity from Unsplash. | Candle from Pexels.
From FreeBibleImages.org: Baby Jesus, Man praying, and Men blinded by bright light, all 3 by LUMO Project (Big Book Media); all rights reserved, educational use only.

12 thoughts on “Advent: the Missing Piece of Christmas

    1. Thank you, Kelly. I’m so glad to have discovered Advent. It really has brought new depth and understanding to Christmas for me. He has come, is with us, and will soon return! That’s worth celebrating!

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  1. Sheila, Thank you for this beautiful reflection upon Advent and Christmas. In the month of December, I focus upon the prophecies and the birth of Jesus and all the surrounding stories, but long ago, I stopped my focus on the candles and Advent as a tradition. I plan to relook at Advent from your perspective next time. Thank you for enlightening us all. May Christmas abound in many blessings to you and your family. Merry Christmas! Karen

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    1. Thanks Karen. I love your idea of focusing on the prophecies and birth of Christmas too. That would make a wonderful Advent focus. One could do readings on the prophecies of Christ’s birth, on his actual birth, and on his second coming. And with or without the candles, I love the fact that Advent can help us reclaim an eternal Kingdom mentality. Christ is coming soon! I hope you have a wonderful holiday! God bless and take care.

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  2. Wow! You’ve nailed this one, my dear. The beauty and serenity and quiet of Advent is the polar opposite of the loud and busy of Christmas. And I love the part about the calendar with boxes or door and little treats–it’s what we’ve reduced Christmas to be. Thanks for this beautifully insightful reminder of what really needs to be our focus. And again, Merry Christmas from the Sunshine State!

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    1. I find that the more times passes, the more I seem to long for quiet and serenity. Perhaps it’s aging. But I think it’s more that these things are not prevalent in today’s society. I’d hate to turn Christmas into nothing more than a mad rush to get everything done, while missing what God may have for me in this period. What is he saying? Who does he want me to reach out? Or even just finding time to thank and worship him! Buon Natale from Italy, Dayle!

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  3. Yes, there is a great deal of meaning in Advent as we reflect on Christ’s coming. As you said so well, Advent comes in past, present and future tense. Jesus came, is coming, and will come.

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  4. Hi Sheila, When we returned from Italy we went to a Lutheran church for a few years. I absolutely loved the lighting of the Advent candles in church. The pastor would light one candle, then two, then three, four and also the middle one (the Christ candle), and each time he would remind us of what each candle represented. It was a lovely celebration!

    Anita

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    1. That’s awesome, Anita! We’ve never actually gotten to attend an Advent service, but I’m sure it would be beautiful! I think what appeals to me about it is that there seems to be a quieter, more reflective spirit to it. Something that often seems to lacking in our lives these days. Do you guys celebrate Advent at home?

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