In my childhood, one of the greatest moments of anticipation was Christmas. I couldn’t wait for the chance to decorate, eat Christmas cookies, and, of course, open presents on Christmas Day. Every Christmas Eve I struggled to go to bed, and was usually the first one up to see what was waiting under the tree. The anticipation and wonder were like adrenaline coursing through my body
As we grow older, most of us lose some of our wonder. The novelty of Christmas starts to wear off, at least a little bit. Along with that, our anticipation gets trampled down under the weight of responsibilities, the rush of preparations, and, at times, the heaviness that comes on some of us around the holidays.
There is a remedy for lost wonder and trampled anticipation. In case you were wondering, the remedy is not getting more expensive presents, having flashier decorations, or inviting the right people to your parties. The remedy is stepping back enough to realize what you’ve lost, and then going through a journey of recovery. Like a relationship that has lost its spark or a hobby that we’ve lost interest in, we need to take time and effort to see what’s right in front of us with fresh eyes.
The church has a recovery program for lost wonder and trampled anticipation leading toward Christmas. That recovery program is called Advent, which comes from the Latin word adventus, which means ‘appearing.’ Advent looks back with wonder at Jesus’ birth over 2,000 years ago, while also looking forward with anticipation to His future return at the end of human history.
Advent is a four-week season of heart-preparation and thoughtful recalibration as we draw near to Christmas. First, we enter into the longing of God’s people, Israel, as they await the Savior who was promised. Second, we enter into anticipatory waiting for Jesus’ second coming with a renewed focus on what matters most. This slow, reflective attention of the Advent season helps us recover the anticipation and wonder appropriate to a fully-engaged celebration of Jesus’ birth at Christmas.
On this blog, you will find a devotional that is intended as a tool for the Advent recovery of anticipation and wonder. Each day in this devotional, you will find a Scripture reading, a reflection question or two, and on some days, an activity for children. This devotional can be used individually, but is also intended for use in groups, such as housemates or families.
May God restore us to wonder and anticipation this Advent as we embark on a journey together toward Christmas.
Pastor Matt Erickson