For those of you who grew up in a Protestant denomination (or have bad memories of a liturgical one) Advent may not be something you would like to practice...but I think we should. Participating in the events of the Christian calendar enables me to center not only my life but also my time around Jesus. It helps me refocus the meaning back onto Jesus' coming and not the marketing hype that dominates our culture.
Advent is the beginning of the Christian calendar. Dennis Bratcher has a lot more information for those of you interested in doing a little more study...nothing too hard though. He also gives a list of readings you can follow during this time of preparation. He also has a great article on Hearing the Old Testament Advent texts.
Advent is a time of expectancy and preparation for the coming of Christ. It represents the waiting and expectation of His birth in the celebration of Christmas and the waiting and expectation of His return.
As with all of the "preparation" periods of the Christian calendar, there is also a sense of repentance. Preparing for the coming of Christ means that we prepare our hearts by repenting of sinfulness and recognizing our sinfulness. This doesn't mean being depressed and sulky or wallowing in our "horrible state of sinfulness." It should be a time of joy...we are freed from our sins whenever we turn them over to God in repentance.
Advent covers the four weeks prior to Christmas, and is usually celebrated by focused Scripture readings and lighting one candle each Sunday on an Advent wreath.
1 Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down,
that the mountains would tremble before you!
2 As when fire sets twigs ablaze
and causes water to boil,
come down to make your name known to your enemies
and cause the nations to quake before you!
3 For when you did awesome things that we did not expect,
you came down, and the mountains trembled before you.
4 Since ancient times no one has heard,
no ear has perceived,
no eye has seen any God besides you,
who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.
5 You come to the help of those who gladly do right,
who remember your ways.
But when we continued to sin against them,
you were angry.
How then can we be saved?
6 All of us have become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;
we all shrivel up like a leaf,
and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
7 No one calls on your name
or strives to lay hold of you;
for you have hidden your face from us
and made us waste away because of our sins.
8 Yet, O LORD, you are our Father.
We are the clay, you are the potter;
we are all the work of your hand.
9 Do not be angry beyond measure, O LORD;
do not remember our sins forever.
Oh, look upon us, we pray,
for we are all your people.
Just as in the times this passage was written...we, too, need the Lord to come!