Advent is about waiting. We get our English word “advent” from the Latin “adventus” which means “arrival”. Because of the focus on arrival the waiting of Advent isn’t the type of waiting that produces laziness. This waiting isn’t about wasting time and naps (though naps during the Advent season might be excellent preparation for celebrating Christmas when they come from a mindset of trust that we can depend upon God). Instead it is the type of waiting that leads to preparation. Expectant parents know that anticipating an arrival leads to preparation during the time of waiting.
My dog knows this too.
Clive may be Pam and my newest dog but he can already pick up on certain preparations and non-verbal cues leading to things he likes. If I walk in a certain manner he expects that I will be heading to a vehicle and therefore starts his “happy dance” while waiting for me to get his leash and my keys. Clive’s predecessors, Montana and Roux, had figured out that certain cooking preparatory actions meant that I would be cooking jambalaya, and me cooking jambalaya would mean lots of scraps for them. They got SUPER excited anytime I started preparing to cut celery (one of the three ingredients of the cajun trinity). They hated celery but that loved what it led to. The preparation pointed to what was coming and the dogs got very excited while waiting for the jambalaya’s arrival.
The waiting of Advent should lead to preparation out of excitement, which is why the message of John the Baptist opens the Gospel According to Mark. “Prepare the way of the Lord” (Mark 1:3) for we expect the arrival of the One we have hoped for.
Bonhoeffer reminds us that the Advent of the Jesus is something we should constantly prepare for.
The Advent season is a season of waiting, but our whole life is an Advent season, that is, a season of waiting for the last Advent, for the time when there will be a new heaven and a new earth.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “God Is In the Manger“, p. 2.
We prepare to celebrate the yearly remembrance of Advent as a way of reminding ourselves to constantly prepare for the last Advent, when the kingdom of God is finalized and all will be right. That is why it is so important that we celebrate Christmas in a manner that glorifies Jesus. When we celebrate Advent yearly in a way that glorifies Jesus we prepare ourselves for the last Advent.
The problem is that often we wait in a manner that doesn’t actually prepare us for the anticipated arrival. We might actually even do wrong things in preparation, things that don’t help and may actually hurt our preparation. Kind of like expecting company to come over to your home and needing to get things ready, but choosing then to change do your taxes or change the oil in your car. That type of work isn’t actually preparation for the expected arrival and probably hurts the expectation and preparation. I believe a lot of the stuff done to “celebrate” Christmas is like this. Wrong use of our expectant waiting and and thus it hurts our preparation.
In Tapestry we join thousands of other churches in using Advent Conspiracy to remind us to:
- Worship Fully
- Spend Less
- Give More
- Love All
We believe focusing on these four things help us to wait in a preparatory manner far better than Christmas is often celebrated. I like what Walter Brueggermann writes about the Advent as preparation.
Advent is not the kind of “preparation” that involves shopping and parties and cards. Such illusions of abundance disguise the true cravings of our weary souls. Advent is preparation for the demands of newness that will break the tired patterns of fear in our lives.
Walter Brueggemann, “Celebrating Abundance: Devotions for Advent“, p. 5.
Wait in a manner that actually prepares for His arrival. Celebrate Christmas in a manner that prepares for His arrival. Otherwise, our waiting is wasted.
SIDE NOTE – a great way to wait in a manner of preparation during Advent is to use a devotional designed to be used during Advent. I quoted above from two that I like, but there are tons of others. Find one that is works for you. I know Advent started Sunday and you might not have thought of it till now, but don’t worry about that. Use the days you have to prepare and forget about the days you didn’t. The books I referenced are:
- “God Is In the Manger“ by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
- “Celebrating Abundance: Devotions for Advent“ by Walter Brueggemann
SIDE SIDE NOTE – if you want more info concerning Advent Conspiracy visit their webpage. It is simple and wonderful. The video below is a nice summary of what Advent Conspiracy is all about.