Forward Today: The counter-cultural season of Advent

Photo by KaLisa Veer on Unsplash

Dear friends in Christ,

This Sunday the season of Advent begins. Two thousand years ago, John the Baptist was a voice crying in the wilderness to call people to repentance. Today, Advent is a voice crying in the din of our time that salvation comes not from shiny things, but from Love Incarnate. In other words, the subversive call to repentance has not changed much in 20 centuries.

December can seem overwhelming. Custom demands that we spend vast sums on gifts. Invitations to parties and festive gathering might stack up. In church, folks are working hard preparing for Christmas celebrations. One might be left wondering how there will be any time for Advent.

And this is the point. Keeping Advent isn’t easy, and that is exactly why we do well to try to keep this season of preparation and repentance.

I’m not here to yell at you for playing Christmas carols or putting up a few decorations. Avoiding Christmas festivity isn’t the fundamental point of Advent. Though I think waiting to celebrate Christmas until it’s Christmas has virtue, I also think people can do two things at once. We can enjoy some holiday festivity and find ways to keep Advent.

What does this look like? Presumably, your church celebrates the liturgy a bit differently this time of year—Advent music and a different focus. This season might be a good time to curl up with the scriptures. As we’re beginning Year B in the three-year lectionary cycle, you might want to read the Gospel of Mark in its entirety. Maybe you’ll spend a few more moments in prayer each day. An Advent wreath can help to create a prayerful environment at home.

Mostly though, the point of this season is to prepare our hearts to meet Jesus. One day, we will all meet him when he comes in glory to judge the world. Will we, as the Advent preface suggests, be ready “without shame or fear rejoice to behold his appearing”?

What parts of your life need to change? What practices in your life do you want to increase or decrease? Who can you invite to know the Good News of Jesus Christ, who offers redemption to all? These are the matters for us to focus on this Advent season, and I hope you’ll find practices that aid in your reflection and repentance.

A blessed Advent to you.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn's signature

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

P.S. Forward Movement offers a new seasonal devotional book with practices and reflections for Advent and Christmastide. You can get the book in paper or as an ebook (Amazon Kindle or Apple Books).

More from our ministry:

Explore Mark’s Gospel in Year B: A Journey with Mark Bible Challenge

Get ready for the 12 Days of Christmas: Christmas Calendar

Practical ways to follow Jesus: The Way of Love Practical Guide

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