Advent is a season that reminds us to hold on to hope and the promise of Christmas.
Advent comes from a Latin word that means “coming,” and at this time of year it refers to the coming of Christ. It’s a way of waiting spiritually, of looking forward to Christmas and all that Christmas promises.
There is a paradox inherent in the Advent season. Why wait for something that’s already here? Christ has come. Christ is among us. But then, are there not prayers that are still unanswered and hopes we still yearn for?
This is the season to hold on to them, every one of them.
1) Light a candle.
Create an Advent wreath with four candles and some greenery. Light each candle on the Sundays of Advent so that by the end you’ll have all four illuminated. You can put one red candle at the center for Christmas Eve.
But even without a wreath, put candles in your windows or on a table or by your bedside. They still speak of your hopes and expectation. You are anticipating the Light of the World coming.
2) Set up an Advent calendar.
Open a window in the calendar each day. The one I had as a child showed a snow-covered village with a different scene inside each window. Of course our favorite window came up at the end. But no peeking in advance.
Advent is about waiting. Hopefully, expectantly, joyfully.
3) Read an Advent devotional every day.
I would recommend any of the daily devotions on this website, in particular the one from our founder Norman Vincent Peale for the 26 Days leading to Christmas. Read a Bible verse, look for an inspirational quote, say a prayer.
4) Pray a carol.
This time of year it’s hard to avoid Christmas carols. You can hear them in the background when shopping at the mall or the grocery store, they drop out of phones (sometimes as someone’s ringing tone), the next-door-neighbor is practicing them on the piano, the radio just played one.
Put the words in your head and use a phrase or two as a prayer. “All is calm, all is bright,” there’s a prayer that needs answering. “Sleep in heavenly peace…” don’t we all wish that? “Joy to the world!” yes, now! “O Come all ye faithful…” Yes, come into our world now!
It’s all a way to welcome Christmas into your heart right now. Advent means coming. Advent is here.