1) The arrival of a notable person, thing or event
2)The liturgical period preceding Christmas
3)The Anglicized version of the Latin word adventus, meaning 'coming'.
I have had advent in some light form or other in my life since childhood, but have never truly studied the liturgical period or the history. I am in the process of doing that right now. I have been in conservative, fundamental, evangelical, protestant churches all my life, and somewhere back along the line my ancestors did away with liturgy and much of church history in our services. Now in my 60's, I find myself yearning for more....theology, and a closer deeper understanding of my faith and heritage.
My first baby steps toward advent this year are to put out an advent wreath that is not traditional, but has meaning for me and my family alone. At each evening meal: to light a candle there, read scriptures about the coming of Messiah, read the history of one traditional church carol and sing it together, more fully appreciating the words. It's only been three days, but it's been good, very good.
Another thing I have been mulling over is the distinction between making things cozy, comfortable and beautiful, to simple, deliberate and Messiah as the center. I have always veered towards white Christmases, beautifully wrapped and presented gifts, fresh flowers and lovely decorations. I have been guilty of'; materialism and buying and collecting Christmas trinkets, making myself and hence my family crazy and exhausted with too much self-imposed busyness, of trying to 'create' Christmas for those I love, being prideful in receiving accolades for my efforts, and craving but not leaving room for time alone with the one I said was the reason for the season.
So, as He leads me I am putting out only things that matter to us and enjoying it as I do it, a little at a time. Trying to not hear the voices around me in the culture of: 'I have all the gifts bought (in November), I have all my gifts wrapped, I have my tree up and decorated by December 1st, I have my calendar full of social events right up through New Years, or I have all my Christmas baking done and in the freezer. It's hard to look away when that seems organized, or fun or the best way of doing it. Where to look? Not at our culture, not even my church culture. But solely at Him and I can only do that by leaving room for Him to teach and guide me.