This morning at worship my husband taught us the difference between looking at Advent as a season of preparation as opposed to a season of penitence.Â Some Christians view the Advent season as a time to “give up something” like they do for Lent. But if we give up facebook for Advent, and then tell all our friends about it, this is not a biblical fast. When we fast, or give up something, no one but God should know about it. (We should keep it to ourselves and not announce to everyone that we are giving up chocolate or coffee!) Jesus made fun of the Pharisees for letting everyone know when they were fasting (Matthew 6:16-18). “They have their reward.” Of course fasting can be spiritually healthy when done in a God-honoring way. Penitence means repentance, and that is something we should be eager to do all year long. Real repentance means rooting out real sin and bad habits.
We are sometimes tempted to feel guilty for things that God has not prohibited.Â But this is diabolical and comes from the accuser, just like the White Witch in Narnia who, when she saw the animals feasting and opening gifts, demanded to know “Why all this waste?” In the Garden of Eden there was only one tree forbidden in the midst of many trees. But ever since Adam ate the fruit, we have been frozen in that moment, thinking all the trees were forbidden, and that God does not want His people having too much fun. But that is slandering our good God.
If we view Advent not as a season of penitence, but as a season of preparation, that is not because we are against repentance. We are getting ready, putting things in order, smoothing out the road (Isaiah 40:1-8).Â Advent is much like the time we spend in the kitchen preparing a feast. It is a time of anticipation and excitement, standing on tiptoe waiting expectantly for the coming of the Messiah. The angels brought glad tidings, and we want to live in such a way that we can bring these same tidings of comfort and joy to the whole world. And that can’t be done with a long face.
8 thoughts on “Advent Expectancy”
You wrote:“We are getting ready, putting things in order, smoothing out the road (Isaiah 40:1-8). “
This has been such a different Advent season for me…. illness has constrained me from my usual seasonal preparations, and I have become aware of so many areas within myself and my family that need work. The hard work of repentance and restoration. I feel saddened but also calmed somehow… perhaps it is because with the Lord even the moments when we are most disappointed in ourselves are heavy-laden with hope. Because He is just around the corner… and we are (as you said) getting ready, putting things in order, smoothing out the road….
Advent blessings to you and yoursâ™¥
Oh Amen to that!
Thanks for giving me some different ways to think about Advent this year.
I second the “AMEN!” Nancy, thanks again.
I’m really grateful for both you and your husband’s admonitions in earthly, joyful celebration. Sometimes it feels as though a majority of Christians are so overly on-guard against materialism and what not, that (for example) having a Christmas tree is some sort of sin, or at least not a “godly enough way” of celebrating Christ’s Incarnation. Thanks for the encouragements against this type of thinking, for it is certainly not an accurate picture of Christ and His kingdom.
Kate, I totally agree! These teachings of joyful celebration have been wonderful oil in our lamps. They have helped us tremendously to focus on Him and His goodness and grace as my husband continues to look for employment. My kids have all exclaimed that they love Advent Sundays, and it makes our hearts so glad that our personal season of waiting has not diminished their (or our) joy. It’s not to say we’ve buried our heads in the sand, but it is to say that our faith has been continuously encouraged and we find ourselves full of gratitude despite the situation around us. :o)
When I wrote the above I had no idea about what would happen over the next few days–that a lunch on Wednesday would lead to speedy interviews and to the amazing offer that came today. The offer would’ve been fantastic in a good economy, but in this economy it was an all out miracle! 48 hours from an interview to an offer is just unheard of! So praise be to God because it can’t be explained by anything but His sovereign goodness! (And I simply had to share our good news here, a place that has been a source of constant encouragement in our faith!)
So our personal advent is over, and my husband is now employed! Alleluia!
Thanks for sharing your good news! Hoorah!