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With the secularization of Christmas comes the secularization of the time before Christmas: Advent. What was once a time of preparation for Christ’s coming has been either forgotten or boiled down to a calendar with a piece of chocolate for each of the 28 days before Christmas. However, there is so much more to this beautiful time of the year.

What is advent?

Advent is a season of the liturgical year that makes up the four weeks before Christmas. The word “advent” is derived from the Latin word, adventus, which means “coming.” In the case of Advent, we anticipate the “coming” of Christ’s birth on Christmas day.

A quick history lesson

In the 4th and 5th centuries, Advent was simply the time before a new Christian was baptized. In the 6th century, Advent became a time to recognize Christ’s second coming. Finally, in the Middle Ages, Christians began connecting the time of Advent to Christ’s coming at Christmas. Today, Christians look at Advent as a commemoration of both Christ’s birth and the anticipation of his second coming.

Why “O Come, O Come Emmanuel?”

You are probably familiar with the famous hymn, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” whose lyrics read:

“O come, O come, Emmanuel,

And ransom captive Israel,

That mourns in lonely exile here

Until the Son of God appears.

Rejoice! Rejoice!

Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.”

This hymn has become the Advent theme song, because it joins our voices with the Israelites in the Old Testament, who in exile waited for the coming of the Messiah. Thankfully we can sing those words knowing the promise of Christ’s first coming has already been fulfilled, and with confidence look forward to His second coming.

Should we really celebrate Advent?

Yes! The season of Advent is a beautiful reminder of our past and future as Christians. Advent helps us enter into the true meaning of Christmas: Christ’s coming to save us. Just as Christians ask the world to “Keep Christ in Christmas,” we also need to keep Christ in the preparation of Christmas. So amid the holiday shopping, the baking, and the holiday parties, don’t forget to also spiritually prepare for the miracle of Christmas, too.

How to use Advent in preparation for Christmas

Just as Christmas decorations get your house in the spirit of Christmas, you can use prayer to get your heart in the true spirit of Christmas. Here are some great resources to help you and your family:

However you decide to celebrate Advent, may it be a beautiful time of preparation that helps you meditate the reason for the season and enrich your family’s Christmas’ celebration for years to come.

Read Also: 7 Lines in 'Wish for Christmas' You Won't Find in the Script

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