What Is Advent and Why Should We Practice It?

Advent is the first season in the Church Year. It begins on the Sunday four weeks prior to Christmas and ends on Christmas Eve. It is the season in which followers of Jesus begin again our annual journey with Jesus from his conception to his coming again. During Advent we enter into the Story of Israel, identifying with the children of Israel held captive in their own land, longing for a Messiah to come and rescue them. It is also a season for us to ready ourselves and wait with eager expectation for the Second Coming of Christ.

Like Lent, Advent is a fresh start for Christians. It is an opportunity for us to purge ourselves of our false messiahs and to turn our hearts back toward the one true Messiah Jesus Christ. We live in a world of false gods and powerful kings that vie for our allegiance and oftentimes succeed at capturing our hearts. Just look at the frenetic and materialistic way our culture celebrates Christmas. If we allow ourselves to simply go with the flow, we’ll be swept into the currents of idolatry and self-worship. We need seasons like Advent in order to renounce and re-order our rhythms into Christ.

Advent is also a time for us to prepare for the arrival of Christ. The word “advent” means, “awaiting the arrival.” Jesus came to us once as a baby in Bethlehem. He will come to us again in the end. And he comes to us now by his Spirit, as we seek his presence daily and call upon his name. It is this past, future, and present advent that we are invited to prepare for this season.

So, we put ourselves in the countercultural posture of silence and waiting. We refrain from the instantaneous gratification of getting whatever we want when we want. And we allow ourselves to feel the need for a Savior. The season of Advent can lead us in this way, and if we choose to follow, our celebration of Christmas will be more joyful and meaningful than ever.

How to Use Advent for the Family: A Simple Guide

It takes practice to wait and prepare for the coming of Christ. Practices shape us into certain kinds of people who love certain kinds of things. The practice of Advent intends to spiritually transform us, to re-direct our desires from false messiahs toward the things of God, and to prepare us for the arrival of Christ. But it will only work if we submit our hearts and bodies to the practice.

Cards 1-4 lead you through the first four weeks of Advent, and Card 5 helps you celebrate all twelve days of Christmas as well as the Epiphany. The front of each card includes a brief explanation of the season, instructions how to use the card, and a decorating tip. The back of each card consists of a very simple prayer guide. All the cards are self-explanatory and user friendly so that anyone can pick one up and follow along. 

May our practice of Advent draw us deeper into the Story of God. May we faithfully wait and prepare for the coming of Christ, so that
we may find greater joy and meaning in our Christmas celebration.

Card 1

Card 2

Card 3

Card 4

Card 5

Other Advent Resources

Good News of Great Joy: Daily Readings for Advent - John Piper

Advent is for adoring Jesus. It is a season of preparation for that special day when we mark Immanuel’s arrival — the coming of our eternal God in frail, human flesh. This is the greatest wonder of history’s many wonders, something too stupendous to celebrate just on one day. Advent is a way of lengthening the joy of Christmas. These 25 brief devotional readings from John Piper begin on December 1 and carry us to Christmas Day. Our prayer is that God would use these readings to deepen and sweeten your adoration of Jesus this December and keep him as the center and greatest treasure of your Christmas season. The candles and candies have their place, but we want to make sure that in all the Christmas rush and hubbub, we adore Jesus above all.

The Dawning of Indestructible Joy: Daily Readings for Advent - John Piper 

The Christmas season is one of the busiest times of the year. But it is also a season of reflection and preparation for that special day when we mark Immanuel’s coming—the arrival of our eternal God in our own frail humanity. This is the greatest of history’s many wonders, something too stupendous to celebrate just on one day. Advent is a way of lengthening and intensifying the joy of Christmas. These 25 brief devotional readings from John Piper begin on December 1 and carry us to Christmas Day. Our hope is that God would use these meditations to deepen and sweeten your adoration of Jesus and help you keep him at the center of your Christmas season.

Where The Light Shines Brightest Advent Devotional -  BIlly Graham Center for Evangelism

Where the Light Shines Brightest is a 25-day devotional intended to help all of us begin to imagine how this Advent season, and our own personal reflection on the birth of Jesus Christ, can inform, and even transform, our desire and passion to show and share this good news with a broken and hurting world. Each daily devotional includes a short reflection on the birth of Christ and a prayer for applying this revelation to our gospel witness in the world today. Nearly two dozen Christian leaders have contributed to this resource.