Advent is perhaps my favorite part of the Christmas season. We’re often so focused on the celebration of comfort and joy that we miss the backdrop of waiting, longing, and expectation that is a part of the Advent season. But we have to remember, Christ did not come into a merry and bright world to make it merrier and brighter, rather He was born while the weary world rejoices. He came after thousands of years of promise and countless generations dying in faith, never receiving the fulfillment (Hebrews 11:39). It’s on those who walk in darkness and live in darkness that the great light has shone (Isaiah 9:2).
As a church, we’re not immune to this darkness. We’re not ignorant towards what it means to wait for God. The joy thrust upon us this season may even highlight the fact that we have pain and longings. Loved ones have died. Family has moved away. Dreams have been crushed. Our season of waiting that we thought would be done by now has indeed continued. The list could go on and on.
In celebrating advent, we embrace the longing, we embrace the darkness so that the light of Christ shines that much brighter. There are countless ways to do this, I’m highlighting just a few below. However you celebrate, be sure to do just that – celebrate. The joy of Advent is not found in the waiting, but in the fulfillment. We rejoice that our savior was born in the flesh to rescue all who would turn from their sins and trust in Him. Peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled.
Desiring God offers a free daily devotionals for the month of December. Since there are several ways to access “Good News of Great Joy” (podcast, email, e-book, or iOS / Android app), it is my #1 recommendation. I read through it last year and was blessed by the content.
Some of us understand the darkness far too well as we wait for the joy of Christmas. In this 10-day devotional, Bob Kellemen walks through what grieving and healing might look like during the holiday season.
“One of the hardest parts of healing for the holidays is the waiting. Everyone else is waiting with joyful anticipation – for the family reunion, the big dinner, opening presents. And we’re just waiting for it all to be over. So we can get back to ‘normal’ whatever that is since our loss.”
– From Day 7
If you want to celebrate Advent as a family, but don’t know where to start, there are 5 helpful ideas here. I especially love the idea of an Advent tree to teach your kids why we anticipate Christ’s coming.
This week The Gospel Coalition put out a list of other new resources to remember Christ during Advent. If you’re looking for more resources, check those out.
This is the devotional our family is reading this year. I don’t have much to say about it since we obviously haven’t gone through it yet, but based on the other books I’ve read by Paul Tripp, I am confident that it will be filled with reminders of the grace and glory of Christ.
Instead of a single author, Come Thou Long Expected Jesus is a collection of several authors who have written reflections on the incarnation. It ranges from Christians of the past like Augustine and Martin Luther to current pastors and theologians.
This is generally the first Christmas album I turn on each year. As the name implies, they are all songs of longing. From their site:
Advent comes to us in the darkest season of the year – a season when the nights are long, the days are cold, and we look with anticipation for the return of warmth in the spring. The songs have both a sense of anticipation and glimpses of light dawning in the face of the Christ child. As we celebrate this season, we celebrate that our Messiah has come, and we look with longing to the day when he comes again.
Sojourn Music has a follow-up Christmas album I would also recommend – A Child Is Born.
For both old and new Christmas hymns, you can’t do much better than Sovereign Grace’s Prepare Him Room. The lyrics are theologically beautiful and the musicians are incredibly talented. You can also buy a family devotional book to go along with the album.