In Deuteronomy 6 we are encouraged to love the Lord our God with all our heart, all our soul, and all our strength. We are encouraged to share the story and commands of God with our children when we are at home or on the road; when we go to bed, and when we are getting up. In short, we are to immerse ourselves in the redemptive narrative of God. The early Hebrews held festivals throughout the year, recounting and celebrating the way God had revealed himself to them as a nation. Similarly, celebrating the various festivals of the Christian year is a way to mark time and to emphasize the various aspects of the life of Christ and the story of redemption.

Advent is a season of remembrance and anticipation. During the four Sundays before Christmas we remember the first coming of Christ. However, we also anticipate Christ's second advent, his second coming when all things will be made new, when there will be no more tears and no more sorrow. It is clear from reading the New Testament epistles that the early church looked ahead to Christ's second advent, but somewhere in the Middle Ages the posture shifted and the church started looking back during the season that came to be called Advent. Advent became faith gazing in the rear-view mirror. 

One author shares how the church ought to cultivate its memory of Christ's first coming and do so with celebrative rituals and songs. However, an unfortunate liability of this season in our consumer culture is that it becomes nostalgic and a wave of sentimentality floods over our faith. Thus, Christ's coming become "too cute and is ultimately lost in the past as only a memory."1

This Advent series is meant to be a recovery of the early tradition of looking ahead and a corrective to the nostalgic default. "Come, Lord Jesus" is one of the final prayers of the New Testament (Revelation 22:20). For us, during this Advent season, it means we commemorate the first coming of Christ, but we also anticipate his second coming. We are people of both memory and hope.

In the coming weeks I will be sharing a new post for each of the Sundays in Advent and for Christmas Eve. I hope it will serve as a way for you to engage with this season.

1 Peter Schuurman and Mark Wallace, "Advent Then and Now," Reformed Worship 121 (September 2016) 19. The initial inspiration for this series began with this recent article in Reformed Worship.


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