As I get older I find myself leaning more toward nostalgia than I do anticipation. In other words, I find myself looking back to fond memories of days gone by, more so than I do looking forward to some imagined future.
On that note, I had an idea this year that came from a great memory I have of Christmas as a child. We always had an Advent calendar. It was usually a simple cardboard piece that hung on the wall where consecutive doors are opened every day leading up to Christmas, beginning on December 1. Ours simply had cardboard doors that when opened exposed a picture behind it. It’s amazing how something so simple produced such anticipation and delight.
My idea was to get an Advent calendar – only a really cool one that is made of wood and has actual little drawers that open – that we keep at grandpa and grandma’s house. In each drawer we will put a little tiny gift for Olivia and Jack. This way I can keep the tradition going, and enjoy the anticipation and delight all over again.
Growing up as protestants in a small church that was not Presbyterian, we never celebrated Advent as such. Though reformed in our doctrine, there was a tendency to rebuff certain traditions that emanated from the Catholic church.
Advent is a season observed in many Christian churches as a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas. The term is a version of the Latin word meaning “coming”. But here’s what’s interesting about Advent. It’s not just about looking back to when Christ first came to earth, it’s also about looking forward to when He will come to earth again.
Latin adventus is the translation of the Greek word parousia, commonly used to refer to the Second Coming of Christ. For Christians, the season of Advent anticipates the coming of Christ from two different perspectives. Advent offers the opportunity to share in the ancient longing for the coming of the Messiah, and to be alert for his Second Coming. My term for Advent then is nostalgic anticipation. I like that!
When we celebrate Advent, we celebrate both Christ’s birth at Christmas – bringing salvation to all who believe – and, His triumphant Second Coming at the end of time, when all that is wrong will be made right. It is indeed nostalgic anticipation.
“But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.” Luke 1: 30-31