This time of year used to look very different than all the advertisements we are bombarded with nowadays. The word “holiday” is in fact a product of the Old English words hālig (holy) and dæg (day).
A holy day was 24-hours set apart for God. The holiday season was a time of giving thanks, recognizing the birth of the Messiah on the Holy day, Christmas (from the old English Crīstesmæsse, Christ’s Mass.)
The beginning of this holiday season was traditionally the first Sunday of December, called Advent from the Latin word, advenire, meaning to come or arrive. The focus of this season of advent was to anticipate and wait on the arrival of Christ, both in remembrance of His first coming and in celebration of His promised second coming.
A Different Look
As early as the 4th century A.D., early Christians would fast during this season of advent in celebration of Christ’s coming.
Fasting in celebration while waiting is not only a foreign notion, it seems counter intuitive to our entire Christmas season. We start this season with a giant meal (Thanksgiving) and dive straight into shopping, sometimes straight up until Christmas Eve.
By the beginning of December, any sense of waiting is eclipsed by a full schedule of Christmas parties, Christmas trees decorating, and Christmas rock on every radio station.
Advent, on the other hand, is about waiting, fasting, praying.
How are We to Celebrate Advent?
What could advent look like in the life of one who longs to step back into the reverence of the holy day season?
Advent is about pining for the long-promised Messiah and recognizing that there is brokenness in our world no plateful of pumpkin pie or cart full of cheap electronics will be able to mend. Apostle Paul writes, “The whole of creation has been groaning together for redemption.”
So in this season of advent, consider what it looks like to wait on the Lord. How will this shape your holidays?
Jesus spoke, “Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? … And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’” (Matthew 25:31-40)
Consider giving in a way which looks different this Christmas. Giving to Food for the Hungry is one way you are able to serve the least of these and be the hands and feet of Christ! Taking time to pray and spend quietly with God is a great way to celebrate Jesus.
Instead of letting Christmas be dictated to you from advertisements, take a step back, and celebrate it in a way that is personal and truly honors our Savior, Jesus Christ.
The author of this blog is Andie Miller, a recent college graduate that studied theology and is currently interested in finding solutions to end poverty worldwide.