Advent begins November 29, marking the end of the 2020 church year (can I get an “Amen”?!) and the start of the church season preceding Christmas. During these coming four weeks, believers look ahead to the coming of Christ, the promised Savior. Because the world focuses on Christmas, the remembrance of Christ’s first coming, even the church can get mixed up in exactly what Advent is about.
Sure, we are looking forward to celebrating the birth of Christ, the coming of Emmanuel, “God with us.” But Christmas has its own season (December 25—January 6) . . . we’ll get there.
In the meantime, Advent offers us time to pause and consider how right now we await Jesus the King, the conquering one who rescues us from sin, death, decay, suffering, anxiety, sadness . . . all that 2020 has come to signify. We exist in the Now, the “Not Yet.” If nothing else, this year has made obvious the fact that we continue to long for peace, healing, wholeness. We are a waiting people.
Christ has come, Christ has risen, and Christ will come again.
In her great work Advent: The Once & Future Coming of Jesus Christ, Rev. Fleming Rutledge says, “‘O Come, O Come Emmanuel’: this venerable hymn is not about a baby in a manger. It is an extended eight-part prayer about an event still in the future. . . Peace in the world as we know it is only hints and suggestions of the true peace in the world to come.”
Readings that focus on Advent
In liturgical churches, the weekly reading calendar focuses on looking for the Messiah. Follow along with this year’s reading here.
Advent Chai with Malachi: book, e-book, or YouVersion reading plan
Christianity Today’s “Advent: Living Hope”
A Prayer for the First Sunday of Advent
“Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.”
I recently opened Spotify, typed in “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” and listened to dozens of renditions of this one song, my Advent theme song. Here, I’ve chosen merely two for you to enjoy, starting with the Piano Guys‘ instrumental version.
Now listen to the words, sung by the incomparable Lauren Daigle: