what is advent?
We are a people of promise. For centuries, God prepared people for the coming of his Son, our only hope for life. At Christmas we celebrate the fulfillment of the promises God made—that he would give a way to draw near to him.
Advent is what we call the season leading up to Christmas. It begins four Sundays before December 25, sometimes in the last weekend of November, sometimes on the first Sunday in December. This year it was November 28th.
1 Peter 1:10-12 is a clear description of what we look back to during Advent.
Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look. (1 Peter 1:10-12 )
For four weeks, it’s as if we’re re-enacting, remembering the thousands of years God’s people were anticipating and longing for the coming of God’s salvation, for Jesus. That’s what advent means—coming. Even God’s men who foretold the grace that was to come didn’t know “what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating." They were waiting, but they didn’t know what God’s salvation would look like.
In fact, God revealed to them that they were not the ones who would see the sufferings and glory of God’s Christ:
They were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven.
They were serving us. We Christians on this side of Jesus’ birth are a God-blessed, happy people because we know God’s plan. The ancient waiting is over. We have the greatest reason to celebrate.
(Adapted from Treasuring God in Our Traditions)
Noël Piper (@noelpiper) is wife of John Piper, mother of five, and grandmother of thirteen. She is also the author of Faithful Women and Their Extraordinary God.