the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event.

Confession. I have never known much, nor cared about the season of Advent. I recognize that there are people all over the world that include this in their holiday celebration, but I’ve never really been exposed to it or felt the space in my life to include something else – till now.

With very little searching (I told you, I don’t have much time!), I found that Advent has been celebrated ever since there were only three numbers in the year. While the focus has shifted and traditions vary,

the whole point of the Advent season is to turn our attention, intentionally, to the coming one – the original Joy Bringer, Jesus.

The world had waited for so long. We needed a savior. We needed the promise fulfilled. We needed hope, joy, and peace. We needed the answer to the problem of sin. It was foretold but no one could see it. They thought they knew how it would happen. They looked, but not many had eyes to see. When he came, he brought so much more than they hoped. The season of Advent invites us to pause and recognize some of the gifts that the Christ child brought to the lonely and broken world, and receive them for ourselves today.

Most commonly, the season of Advent is marked by the lighting of five candles, one each Sunday leading up to Christmas, then the final one is lit on Christmas eve. Each candle has a theme and a verse of scripture to meditate on.

  • HOPE – 1st candle – This first week celebrates the coming Messiah. It’s also traditionally called the Prophecy Candle. It centers around the prophetic declaration, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Emmanuel.” Isaiah 7:14
  • LOVE – 2nd candle – Our attention is turned to the love that came down at Christmas. In Bethlehem, “This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:12
  • JOY – 3rd candle – Fear was turned to great joy as the angels delivered the good news. “And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” Luke 2:8–11
  • PEACE – 4th candle – The favor of God is here and it comes with peace! “Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:13–14
  • FORGIVENESS – 5th candle – The good news wasn’t just for the Israelites, we all have the opportunity to receive freedom from our sin and shame. “Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” Isaiah 1:18

This Christmas I am determined to slow down, pause even, to take in all that the Lord wants to reveal to me. What about you? What are you waiting for in this season of your life? What does your heart long for? As we turn our attention to Him, we can trust that the Lord knows us deeply. As we connect our hearts to the Lord, and to each other, He is faithful to reveal His promises and the good news of great joy brought to us by his son, Jesus.

For the next 24 days I will be reflecting on the Joy of the season in the Joy Bringer’s Advent.

Will you join me?