Blog #314: A New Advent Tradition

John Cline

Advent is the season before Christmas. This year, Advent will begin on Sunday, November 25th and finish at midnight on Christmas Eve. Then, on Christmas Day start the official “Twelve Days of Christmas”, a period that concludes on January 6th. Historically, there actually is a historical basis for the Twelve days of Christmas as they were intended to mark the amount of time it was believed to have taken after the birth of Jesus for the magi, or wise men, to travel to Bethlehem from their starting place in “the east” (thought to be today’s Iraq).

In any case, Advent has no such biblical or traditional basis but has been observed throughout the centuries as a period of waiting and preparation before Christmas before the “coming” or the “advent” of our Lord in his birth. That is why the Advent season ends on Christmas Eve, because on Christmas Day, Jesus has come. Due to its long history and the enormous popularity of Christmas (much of it non-Christian, such as Santa Claus), there are countless customs and traditions associated with the Advent Season. Our church has an Advent Wreath and we light Advent Candles in our worship services on each of the four Advent Sundays before Christmas. Simply in order to finish off the season, we also light a fifth candle, the so-called Christ Child Candle at the final worship service on either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. In addition to an Advent Wreath and Advent Candles, many people have other Advent traditions that they keep: keeping an Advent Calendar which will see one door opened on each of the days of Advent (sometimes chocolates or other surprises are behind each little door on the calendar), putting up Christmas lights on their houses or trees, erecting and decorating the Christmas tree in their homes, putting up a Nativity scene (a “Creche”), etc, etc.

However, there has begun in recent years a new Advent tradition. And, that is to simply read the entire Book of Luke, one chapter at a time, starting on December 1st. If you take up this challenge, you will have read all 24 chapters of Luke by December 24th, just in time for Christmas. Chapters 1 and 2 of Luke are where you will find the most beloved of the birth of Jesus stories (Matthew 2 is where you can read about the coming of the magi/wisemen). Chapter 24 of Luke is where you will read about the resurrection and ascension of Jesus. So, by reading one chapter of Luke per day from December 1st- 24th, by Christmas Eve you will have you will have an entire account of Jesus’ life and you could wake up on Christmas Day with an entirely new understanding and appreciation of who he is and why we celebrate his birth.

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