by Michael Schutt

I love the Advent season. For one thing, it has always been for my family an “excuse” to linger together after the evening meal and talk—to talk of God’s promises, to think about the coming of Jesus, and to prepare ourselves for His coming again.

Another reason I love Advent is that our tiny traditional acts, like lighting Advent candles, opening doors on the Advent calendar, or singing Advent hymns, push back against the consumerist traditions that threaten to overtake the real celebration of Christmas. Advent is a great way to infuse real meaning into the hurried “holiday season.” It also reminds us to stop and reflect. Advent is an easy “structure” to remind us. Through Advent, we can take some time to examine our hearts instead of just our shopping lists.

Finally, I love this season because of its great themes: reflection and repentance, joy and surprise, longing and promises kept.

In the fourth century, Bishop Ambrose of Milan preached a sermon in which he reflected on the great Advent passage about the messenger with “the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.’” Ambrose highlights the “advent” themes:

Voice and crying go together: the voice preaches faith; the cry calls for repentance; the voice, comfort; the cry, danger; the voice sings mercy; the cry announces judgment.

Faith and repentance. Comfort and danger. Mercy and Judgment. May you reflect well—and joyfully—on these themes as we prepare our hearts for the coming of the King!


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