In churches that practice keeping days holy, Advent is the name given to the four weeks before Christmas.
Advent means ‘coming’ or ‘arrival’, and liturgical churches say it is the time during the darkest days of the year to wait for light and life to come into the world at the birth of Christ.
Ancient and modern pagans, witches, and spiritists say the same thing, except instead of the Son of God it is the sun god or merely the winter solstice that makes the days brighter after December 25th.
The custom in churches is to have an advent wheel wreath with five candles: one is lit for each week of Advent including Christmas. Teaching a lesson of expectation and hope often accompanies each candle.
Pre-Christian (read non-Christian) people have been doing this for as long as they hung their wagon wheels indoors during the winter and used them as chandeliers to provide light during the bleak winter. Praying while spinning the evergreen decked wheels was thought to please the gods and bring back longer days.
It worked for them every year, just like the Advent wreath.
No Grinch or Ebenezer can keep Christmas from coming, nor other days on the Advent calendar like Saint Nicholas’ Day on Dec. 6th or the feast of Mary’s sinless conception on Dec 8th. And don’t forget Christmastide and the Twelve days of Christmas, or the day honoring the solemnity of Mary as the mother of God on Jan 1st.
Roman Catholic tradition says these days were created in order to communicate church doctrine to the illiterate. Unfortunately, church doctrine is not always Biblical truth, especially when the church is Rome.
As modern day Christians become Biblically illiterate once again, these days return to popularity in the culture, and Christianity departs from its Biblical roots and returns to Rome.
Expecting What to Happen?
According to Catholic teaching, takers of the Mass must fast the day before eating Jesus. Christmass was no different and so the season of Advent was a time of fasting and penance. It was forbidden at certain times in Traditional church history not to eat on Christmas Eve, and forbidden to fast on Christmass day.
For these reasons Advent has been called the Christmas Lent and like Lent has no basis in scripture, though you will find churches reading scripture during Advent to prepare your heart and mind for the coming of the Lord (figuratively in his birthday celebration).
Keepers of Advent point out that holy refrain and abstinence is a good religious substitute for the commercialism and gluttony of the cultural Christmas season. However, grace teaches us there are two ways to feed the flesh: one by feeding it, and one by neglecting it. Both are to be avoided.
“Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.” – Col 2:23
Reorienting our minds toward the Lord Jesus Christ is a good thing to do at any time of year, but if it requires worldly ordinances, rudiments of the world, and traditions of men to do so, then we are not holding up the Head but ourselves (Col 2:19).
Waiting for the coming of the Lord is something we as Christians should always do, but we are not told to remember his birth, but his death and resurrection.
“For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.” – 1 Corinthians 11:26
“Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel” – 2 Timothy 2:8
What are Adventers expecting to happen that Christ has not already told us to do? Could it be they keep days of expectation because they are ignorant of Christ’s expectations for the church? (1 Tim 2:4; Phil 2:21; Gal 4:9-11)
Let Your Light Shine
God has left us in this dark and sinful world for a reason, and that is to shine the light of the glorious gospel of Christ which is not preached at the cradle but by the cross of Christ (Phil 2:15; 2 Cor 4:4). This particularly Pauline message is rarely mentioned in the religious Adventen traditions which often focus on charity, Mary, shepherds, and John the Baptist.
While the Body of Christ is instructed to look and watch, it was not for the Fontanini crèche to be complete, or to wait until the Epiphanytide to manifest Christ to the world (Titus 2:13; Col 2:2-4).
It is no coincidence that those churches that annually wait for the coming of light into the world during Advent are least likely to preach truth from the pulpit when it’s over.
The mystery of Christ has been revealed for far too long to keep it a secret behind the closed doors of an Advent calendar.
A better tradition during the darkest days of the year would be to work at opening every door now to make all men see the fellowship of the mystery (Eph 3:9; Col 4:3). What are you waiting for?