The word advent is adopted from the Latin word adventus which can be translated “coming and/or arrival.” As Rev. Joe Carnes Ananias laid out more robustly in the Trinity News a few weeks ago, Advent is a set apart season of the church where the community both celebrates that Christ has come once, in the form of a child born in a manger, and anticipates that Christ will come again to fully enact his reign and rule.
Practically, this season of Advent tends to go hand-in-hand with many Christmas-themed parties among our different communities. This should be welcomed because gatherings can form and shape us in many ways.
First, Christian celebratory gatherings, especially during the season of Advent, give us space to acknowledge and celebrate what God has done in the world through Christ. As forgetful people, times together realign our minds and hearts to the life-altering reality that Jesus has come into the world and nothing can or will ever be the same.
Secondly, these gatherings, which often have some expression of gifts, remind us that God has given us the greatest gift imaginable—himself. The happiness of material gifts will fade, but the joy of knowing and being known by Jesus is eternal.
Thirdly, our times of celebratory fellowship foster joy because we were made for relationships—to laugh, cry, dream and eat together in community. These times forge deeper connection and provide us with a foretaste of life in the new heaven and the new earth when Jesus returns and we are all together with him forever.
Finally, these gatherings remind us that we are part of the family of God. We gather together and celebrate Advent because we have a shared communal identity as people who believe in the birth and second coming of Jesus. We celebrate what is important to us, and by celebrating the joys of this season, we cement these spiritual truths in our mind more deeply.
So in this Advent season, celebrate and celebrate well as a community, under the banner that Christ has come and will come again. This not only builds joy and hope, it also builds anticipation of our promised future together.