It’s Boxing Day. You’re sitting on the couch, tucking into some leftover pud and a serving of the test match on TV. But you can’t shake a feeling of emptiness. You realise that in the midst of frenzied Christmas shopping and partying, you forgot to celebrate the arrival of the Saviour the world.
While you’ve been celebrating Christmas for a whole month, you haven’t really celebrated the reason for the season.
So how do you avoid this post-Christmas remorse? Make time to observe Advent!
Advent comes from the Latin word “adventus”, meaning “coming” or “arrival.” Much like the season of Lent before Easter, Advent is designed to prepare our hearts for the coming of our Saviour King.
Traditionally, Advent is celebrated over four Sundays in the lead-up to Christmas (although the period is a bit longer for Eastern Orthodox churches). This year Advent will begin on Sunday 27 November and end on Saturday 24 December.
It helps us to slow down and revel in the beauty of our Saviour.
Spending time reading the Bible, praying, lighting candles and using other Advent resources, helps lift our eyes and hearts from the worldly Christmas rush to God’s divine plan. It helps us to slow down and revel in the beauty of our Saviour – the God who “became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). Spending more time with God and less time shopping may also help us to push back the tide of Christmas consumerism and bring Jesus’ birthday into the spotlight.
US artist, author and minister Jan L. Richardson describes the benefits of Advent in her book Night Visions: Searching the Shadows of Advent and Christmas. She says, “The season of Advent means there is something on the horizon the likes of which we have never seen before … What is possible is to not see it, to miss it, to turn just as it brushes past you. And you begin to grasp what it was you missed, like Moses in the cleft of the rock, watching God’s [back] fade in the distance. So stay. Sit. Linger. Tarry. Ponder. Wait. Behold. Wonder. There will be time enough for running. For rushing. For worrying. For pushing. For now, stay. Wait. Something is on the horizon.”
To help you make the most of Advent this year, Eternity has pulled together some of our favourite new Advent resources.
For the hard-copy book lover
Koorong’s pick of 2022 Advent resources is the exquisitely illustrated new book by artist and author Ruth Chou Simons, Emmanuel: An Invitation to Prepare Him Room At Christmas and Always. Ruth’s first book, GraceLaced, won a 2018 Christian Book Award. As the name of her new book suggests, Emmanuel (which means God with us) explores “what it means to intimately experience God’s presence in our daily lives.” Unlike other Advent resources, Ruth’s book encourages us to see Christmas Day as the start rather than the end of our celebrations. “Emmanuel is an invitation to rejoice in the everlasting fellowship and hope God extended to us on the day of His Son’s birth, guiding us to realise that having God with us all year long is Christmas’s most incredible gift,” she says.
For the journaller
Hope is Born: An Advent Journal for Waiting & Working is a free digital resource created by the De Pree Center, a branch of Fuller Seminary in the US that aims to equip Christian leaders. The Hope is Born journal relates specifically to the “promise that God has for us in our work” – whether that’s in paid employment, underemployment or other work situations. “Together, we will turn to passages of Scripture that echo our groans and remind us of our hope. Through an adaptation of the ancient practice of Lectio Divina, we will read or listen to passages of Scripture, reflect on them, ask God for wisdom and understanding, and respond to God’s invitation to us,” the journal blurb reads.
Each day, users are guided to read or listen to a passage of Scripture, to reflect on it using a series of questions printed in the journal, to request understanding from God and to respond by adpoting one attitude or action. The Advent journal is downloadable, as well as accompanying resources such as worksheets and an Advent reading plan. The reading plan is also available as a playlist on the Dwell Scripture listening app through a premium subscription.
For the justice-minded
Common Grace’s digital devotional series has become a staple for the Advent season. This year’s series, beginning on Thursday 1 December, is based on the theme “the good”.
“It is in this moment of remembering Christ’s birth we see the depth of God’s great love for all Creation and the good breaking in – a new covenant beginning, a new foundation laid and the renewal of right relationship between God and all Creation.
“Jesus, who spoke out against injustices, welcomed the stranger, protected the widow and healed the sick, pointed to the hope and ‘good’ God intends for the world in the reconciliation of all things (Col 1:20), for the flourishing and wholeness of all Creation. He gave himself to see the good begin to break into the world today,” explains the Common Grace website.
25 Christian leaders will each deliver a daily bible reflection, including Dr Louise Gosbell, Aunty Dr Anne Pattel-Gray, Dr Mike Frost, Bek Stanton, Will Small, Dr Byron Smith, Safina Stewart, Stevie Wills, Luke Vassella, Lyndal Sherwin, Kate Leaney, Gershon Nimbalker and more.
For the whole family
The Light Before Christmas: A Family Advent Devotional is a brand new offering from bestselling author Marty Machowski, who has written a host of Christian books for kids and parents. In this four-week devotional, he combines Bible devotions on the theme of light and darkness with the story of 11-year-old Mia and her grandmother as they prepare for Christmas. The book contains thirteen devotionals – three for each of the four weeks of Advent and one more for Christmas. As well as a Scripture for the day, each devotional also includes a question to discuss as a family, a song to sing together and a prayer.
For your church
The National Council of Churches in Australia (NCCA) has pulled together a list of 2022 Advent resources from different church denominations. These include a host of resources churches can use in the lead up to Christmas – from worship resources, to sermon notes, prayers, kids activities, social media images and presentations. There are also two Bible studies designed to help the Church tune in to the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Christians.