If you grew up outside the church or in a broadly evangelical congregation, there’s a good chance you don’t know what to do with Advent. For years I thought Christmas and Advent were synonymous. Not true. They are inseparable, but they play distinct roles on the church calendar.
To help you rethink your Advent preparations (and to help you laugh a bit), I have developed the top 10 reasons to celebrate advent. Even if you didn’t start celebrating on the 1st day of Advent, I encourage you to start today:
The Top 10 Reasons to Celebrate Advent
10. It makes it seem like Christmas is coming faster. Unlike Israel, who had no idea how long it would be until Jesus arrived, we can count down the days with growing anticipation.
9. It keeps the kids from asking, “How much longer?” You’re answering that question every day. Next question?
8. In the midst of an over-commercialized Christmas, a daily Advent celebration helps us remember the real reason we needed Jesus to come in the first place–we are sinners who need a Savior!
7. It gives you a reason to buy those cool purple, pink and white candles to have at home. Come on. All you pyromaniacs know that you want one of those cool lighters and a reason to use it!
6. It immerses your family in the Scriptures that prophesy Jesus’ birth, rescuing you from an over-sentimentalized view of Christmas.
5. It precedes the 12 Days of Christmas. How much better to exchange gifts for 12 days and pass on the spirit of Christmas for almost two weeks, instead of 1 night and 1 day? Oh, and how much better for our souls to ponder the reality of Emmanuel (God with us) for 12 days, instead of 1.
4. It will provide worship leaders more Advent musical resources. Here’s the logic: There are not enough Advent songs available today; most songs get to the Christmas message too quickly (which I’m not complaining about, we need to hear about the Incarnation every day). But songwriters write for a perceived need (be it personal, community or commercial). So, if more churches and families celebrate Advent, more songwriters will write Advent songs and we’ll all be better for it!
3. It ensures you plan ahead for the arrival of difficult family members. If you count down the 25 days till Christmas, you can also keep an internal clock for the arrival (and departure) of dreaded “Cousin Vinny” (substitute your own dreaded name as I don’t even have a Cousin Vinny). This also gives you a chance to remind yourself of the Gospel as you prepare to spend anxious moments with “Vinny.”
2. It provides daily opportunity to sing the classic Advent and Christmas carols. There are only 4 Sundays during Advent–not nearly enough time to sing all the wonderful Christmas music available. Daily advent celebrations allow families to develop a broad appreciation for the Advent and Christmas music available around the world and through history.
And the #1 reason why families should celebrate Advent daily (and no, I can’t end this on a funny note, even though I really want to…):
1. Advent gives us a chance to express to Jesus our thankfulness for His first coming and our earnest longing for His second coming. Emmanuel has come to dwell with us. We are all grateful for the Holy Spirit’s indwelling presence, But we also echo the Apostle John in Revelation 22:20, “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” His return will make all things right!
I recently shared some Advent resources on this post, but my friend Bruce Benedict has also compiled a list of lesser known Advent songs here. Bruce also has another list of great Advent songs you could sing in your devotionals here, I sang Nathan Partain’s arrangement of Come Thou Long Expected Jesus in worship yesterday and found it very helpful for reflecting the earnest plea of those lyrics.
City Life Church in Boston has also produced a great new Advent/Christmas album worth checking out. It’s called simply, “Christmas” by Castle Island Hymns.
And if you’re looking for some lighthearted moments, check out these video clips:
Someone had too much free time to create this:
Finally, here is an unplugged version of Keith & Kristyn Getty’s How Suddenly a Baby Cries.
Why do you celebrate Advent?