What is Advent anyway?

I grew up at a church where Advent was recognized. I’m sure people explained to me what Advent is growing up, but if you asked me what it was back then I would have given you a blank stare. What is Advent outside of lighting a candle each week at church? 

Into my college years and beyond, the churches we were a part of did not acknowledge Advent. If you asked any of the pastors, I’m sure none of them would be anti-Advent. But somewhere along the way it seems that acknowledging Advent or Lent became associated with old traditional practices. Just as pews and hymnals became things of the past, so did recognition of Advent.

I sensed that there was more to Advent than I had personally experienced, so I did what I normally do when I want to learn more about something. 

I googled it. 

I learned a few new things.

I was reminded that Advent is a Christian tradition that calls us to reflect and anticipate. Advent means “coming,” and has roots in the word “arrive.” It is a time designed for the church to take pause and reflect on the significance and power that came with the arrival of Jesus. 

But what I didn’t realize is that Advent is not just about celebrating the coming of Christ, it’s also about anticipating and longing for His final return. The practice of Advent gives us space to celebrate what has been done, but it also helps us shift our gaze towards what is still to come. It is a time of waiting.

Advent and Adventure

As I continued my research, something else stuck out to me. Have you ever noticed that the words Advent and adventure look very similar? I found that Advent and adventure came from the same root word. Both Advent and adventure have their origins in the Latin word advenire, “to arrive”. Over time as language has evolved, Advent has come to be associated with words like “coming” “arrive” and “waiting”. Advent is most often associated with the Christian tradition. Adventure also refers to something to come, but oftentimes it is speaking of something unplanned, risky or even dangerous. It seems like the words Advent and adventure have gone their separate ways as language has evolved. I don’t think that was the intent. 

There is adventure in Advent. There is an adventure in the waiting.

I feel like God spoke those words directly to me. I am horrible at waiting. I discussed this in depth in a past post. In times of transition I find myself making unnecessary lists just so I can check things off. When I am looking for jobs, I apply for ones I know I wouldn’t take – but filling out applications makes me feel purposeful. My tendency in seasons of waiting is to look forward, anticipate what is next and long for the next thing. When I do that, I forget to celebrate what God has already done. But not only that, I miss the adventure that I am currently in. 

To us some of this “adventure” may seem unplanned, dangerous or risky. I hear you. But in this season of Advent, let’s pause and reflect on the power and significance that came with the birth of Jesus. In doing so, my hope is that we can move forward knowing that we can trust the author of our adventure.

Let’s celebrate Advent this year. 

Let’s look beyond the traditions that at times have muted the power and purpose of this season. Let’s look to the heart of the season. 

Christians that have gone before us have created some beautiful framework around Advent. There are themes designed for us to meditate on each week. Each theme is set in place to either encourage us to celebrate what has been done or look forward in anticipation of what is to come. But no matter where you look, we must remind ourselves of the adventure we have been called to along the way. 

So join me this month as I seek to understand the power and purpose of this season. 

This season of celebration. This season of anticipation. This season of waiting. This season of adventure. 

Advent. 

Because there is more, 

Lisa


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