The Gift of Advent

By Ryan Dawson 

ad·vent ˈadˌvent/ noun
1.the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event.
2.the first season of the Christian church year, leading up to Christmas and including the four preceding Sundays.
3.the coming or second coming of Christ.

When I was a child I always looked forward to the chocolate advent calendars that helped us count down the days until Christmas morning.  To be honest my focus was more on the presents that would arrive Christmas morning than it was on celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.  But Advent has a much deeper meaning than the chocolate calendars you buy at Wal-Mart.  

The word “Advent” comes from the Latin word adventus, which means “coming” or “visit.” In the season with this name, we keep in mind both “advents” of Christ, the first in Bethlehem and the second yet to come, when Christ will return to set all things right.  

The four-week season of Advent is a time of preparation for Christmas where Christians focus on the meaning of the baby in the manger.  We are reminded of how the Jews longed for the Messiah to come, and this helps us realize our deep need for a Saviour.  Advent also helps us reflect on the peace, love, joy, and hope we have in a relationship with Christ, and it helps us centre on the real meaning of Christmas, in the midst of the all the busyness, shopping, and preparations that surround this time of year.  

“Advent cultivates in us a discerning eye, helping us to spot the sin that clutters our lives and notice all the ways we need to be saved.  By helping us to hope intensely in the restoration, to feel our own need to be saved.  Advent prepares us for genuine Christmas joy and faith in the One who saves us form our sin, Jesus.”  (Seeking God’s Face, Philip Reinders. 23)  In this sense Advent is meant to get us ready, not for a present-opening party, but for a transformational celebration of the birth of Jesus.

As we begin this Advent season, I want to encourage you to take time each day to reflect on the story of the coming Christ.  There are many helpful resources you can use to do this.  I have listed several below.  

•The YouVersion App has many helpful Advent devotionals that you can access.  
•Seeking God's Face: Praying with the Bible Through the Year by Philip F Reinders.  (Available on Amazon & Indigo)
Tearfund Canada has a unique Advent resource focused on addressing global poverty.  
Because of Bethlehem by Max Lucado.  (Available on Amazon & Indigo)
Every Moment Holy Advent Journal  (Free PDF).
•John Piper The Dawning of Indestructible Joy  (Free PDF).
•If you want to celebrate Advent as a family this year, you can get an Advent kit by emailing

Whatever you choose to use, I pray that you take time this Christmas season to reflect on the greatest story ever told, and you find your place in this story.  

Merry Christmas!  Blessings, Ryan