The past few years, I have cringed my way through the month of December, mulling over the fact that the Grinch and I seemed to have more in common than I originally thought.
Why? Because I so, SO disliked Christmas.
In my eyes, Christmas has become a failed attempt at spiritual significance. Where the sweeping stories of the Gospels should dominate, we instead insert materialism and some of the worst music you could possibly imagine.
I want to gather up the writers of every mainstream Christmas song, stick them in a room somewhere, and make them listen to their work on repeat until they repent.
Yes, twinkling lights, dazzling greenery, and a cozy spirit during a cold month are all good things, but they did little to ease my dislike of Christmas.
You know what has?
The liturgy of Advent.
December 1st is the beginning of the season of Advent. Rooted in church history, The Gospel Coalition explained that, “The Latin word adventus was the translation of the Greek parousia—a word used for both the coming of Christ in human flesh and his Second Coming. Advent, then, always tended to focus on both.”
This does a wonderful job of diving deeper into the history of Advent:
I never dwelled on Advent in the past, but this year has been one of turning to ancient history and traditions in order to revive current spiritual practice. After all, when Scripture and the ancient church have already established so many days, seasons, and rhythms that are deep and infused with meeting, why don’t we practice those before attempting to create something new?
If we want to celebrate Christmas Eve and Christmas day in a deeply spiritual manner, attempting to do so after living out December like the rest of culture is just setting ourselves up for failure. Just like Lent creates prepares hearts for Easter, Advent prepares our hearts to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, and builds eager expectation for when he will come again.
To those who have read this far and are stressed about adding something else to this season, be calm. Half of Advent is simply about preparing room in our hearts and lives to dwell on and receive the good news that Jesus became human for us and that he will return for his people.
The active part of celebration can be just as simple. This year, I’m intentionally studying through the book of Luke, taking time to think about the mystery and beauty of the Christ in the flesh daily, and striving to be present in this season throughout all the traditions and celebrations.
For the first time in a long time, I’m *almost* excited about Christmas (hey, what’s taken a decade to build will not be totally undone in one month). To echo the conclusion of the letter of Revelation, “Come, Lord Jesus!”