I love Advent (I love Lent, too) because it disciplines me to focus on the true meaning of the Christmas season - the coming of our Savior to save us from our sins. It's one of those liturgical practices that sadly have become less common I guess because they lost meaning for many people. But I think it's a valuable practice to resurrect to put us in a spiritual posture to appreciate more of the significance of Christmas.
I find that Christmas day has much more significance for me when it's the culmination of weeks of preparation rather than the goal line of a busy month. Advent draws our attention to our need for a Savior, the deepest desire of our hearts fulfilled in Immanuel. It focuses on waiting - Israel waiting for their deliverance, our personal waiting for salvation, and waiting for Jesus' return, the culmination of all hope in Him. Jesus is the answer to all that waiting, all that desire, and we celebrate the fulfillment of hope on Christmas.
Many families and churches light candles on advent wreaths, read Scripture, and sing Christmas carols that focus attention on this universal feature of the human condition. The first candle is lit this Sunday.
Comfort, O comfort my people,
says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and cry to her
that she has served her term,
that her penalty is paid,
that she has received from the LORD’S hand
double for all her sins.
A voice cries out:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD,
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain.
Then the glory of the LORD shall be revealed,
and all people shall see it together,
for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”