Advent with a side of perspective

Like many churches around the world, we lit the purple candle of peace this past weekend and celebrated the first Sunday of Advent. While I sat in the choir loft watching that little dancing flame, it suddenly occurred to me that I have no idea what Advent really is. At some point in my childhood, I remember owning one of those open-a-door-and-get-some-candy calendars, but that’s about it. After a bit of Google-magic, here is a synopsis of what I found:

Advent is “a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the birth of Jesus.” It comes from the Latin word “Adventus” which means “coming”. There was also a good bit about the candles and symbolism, but I was less interested in that part right now. In addition, Advent offers not only a chance to remember “the ancient longing for the coming of the Messiah” but also the chance to “be alert for his Second Coming”.

Talk about incredibly timely information there—because let me just tell you—I am becoming the queen of waiting. Seriously. It seems like just about the only thing I do these days. Waiting for the raise I was promised last January, waiting to see what the plan is for Strider and I post-graduation, waiting in lines to buy presents, waiting for my next ASL class to start, waiting in traffic, waiting on my sister to finally come home for Christmas (19 days!!), waiting for The Hobbit to come out, waiting for Christmas and it’s blessed PTO…just so. much. waiting. 
(Hey, I never said I did it well.)

But the truth is…I, Sarah, am a petulant, whiny child. I want, I want, I want…. 

And today, I was reminded of just how petty all my “waiting” really is. Here we are, in the season of Advent and fretting about the holiday bustle, when 2,000 years ago, the world was desperate for their Messiah to arrive, desperately waiting to know that God was going to fulfill His promises to them. And Mary, likely just 14 or 15 years old, was riding a donkey across the country and waiting to give birth—scary even under the best of circumstances. Talk about putting my waiting into perspective!

So I’m going to try to take all my frustration and energy spent on my “waiting”, and turn it in to authentic preparation for the celebration of the arrival of my Messiah. It seems harder for us to do this today because we know the end of the story—Jesus came—God showed up. In that tiny manger, He did exactly what He said He would. And since we don’t know how our story will turn out, it’s much easier to focus on our own problems. The beauty is that He knows—just as He knew how the birth of Jesus would come about, He already has an incredible plan for us. So I’m telling myself to stop fretting, and instead to spend some time expectantly preparing my heart for what it really means for Jesus to be born on Earth...as one of us.

It’s easy to complain this time of year about grumpy shoppers and bad weather and not getting what we wanted under the tree—we really know how to put the vent back in Advent. But I want more out of this season…I want to celebrate like the Magi did…dropping everything and traveling far to see the one true King. 

And for a little holiday music to help your spirit into the right mood, I’d recommend:

How do you prepare your heart during Advent?


  1. Thank you for this post and I also ask myself what is this advent season really mean to me...thank you for your encouragement.

  2. Ah Sarah, such great thoughts.

    I too have been trying to figure out how to make advent more meaningful for a couple years now and I am realizing it is a slow process. Each year I'm adding something little in--a new advent wreath, a new pandora station :) with instrumental christmas music, a tradition of lighting a candle at breakfast to keep lit till it is light out. Slowly we're getting there.

    You'll appreciate my other quest--to find kids Chrismas books with brown baby Jesus. This is hilariously difficult, but I'm kind of a scavenger when it comes to kids books, so I'm slowly adding to my brown baby Jesus collection.

    1. Thanks Kris. And starting small is good. My goal for this year is to read my church's Advent handbook every day (to which I was a contributor so I should be reading it!). It's been great to refocus me before bed--maybe someday I'll get up early enough to do it before breakfast.

  3. I'm doing the same thing with The Little Blue Book each night. It's really helped me to slow down and reflect. Love your thoughts and perspectives girlie!


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