According to Merriam-Webster:
1: the period beginning four Sundays before Christmas and observed by some Christians as a season of prayer and fasting
2 a: the coming of Christ at the IncarnationTo some, Advent is a foreign concept, or something done by the stuffy liturgical churches. But I believe, if understood properly, it can become a helpful tool to prepare ourselves for the joy and glory of Christmas - the true meaning of Christmas. That's a day for us to think on and rejoice in the first coming of Christ, providing salvation for mankind. There's two purposes of Advent: to remind us of Christ's first coming in Bethlehem and also to look ahead to His second coming. One thing that I think we miss in many Christmas celebrations is the watching and hoping for His second coming. The story is not done yet.
b: second coming (of Christ).
So many times in the past, I've been absorbed in my daily life for the weeks and days leading up to Christmas. We have to buy presents, plan family trips, get things done at work before taking off for vacation etc. Despite all the decorations, it's only on Dec 24 that I slow down enough to start thinking about the meaning of Christmas, but by that time, the Christmas I experience is only a shadow of what it could, or should be.
Last year I became interested in trying out this Advent idea. What I came up with isn't the best, but it works for me.
I looked and looked for a reading plan, but couldn't find anything that I felt would prepare me for Christmas celebration. Most were devotionals with good scripture, but they seemed to jump around without an obvious purpose. So being the non-conformist I am, I decided to try making something myself.
After reading about the purpose of Advent, I decided on a structured reading plan that would take me through, what I considered to be, all the essentials in my preparation and help me feel the Christmas story. It's broken into 4 weeks:
Week 1: Reminder of our sin problem. (Creation and Fall)
Week 2: God's promises of a Savior. Place myself in the shoes of the old testament Israel who were eagerly awaiting the coming savior. (Feel their hope and longing, as example for how we should hope for the second coming)
Week 3: Jesus' salvation and our redemption. Who Jesus said He was and what He claimed. (Fulfillment of the first promises)
Week 4: Jesus' second coming. (Hope and long for His future coming, as Israel awaited the first coming)
And of course I save the scripture on Jesus' conception and birth for Christmas Eve and Day, respectively.
I originally wanted it to be a family affair, but after trying that, I think it's better left for personal devotion. The Reading Plan is daily, but not all are critical so a few missed will be fine. However, the point I was after was to really saturate myself with these ideas, and dwell on these four basic ideas leading up to Christmas. It makes Christmas morning much more glorious. And without further ado, here's the reading plan:
Day 1 - Gen 2:1-10, 2:15-25Week 2
Day 2 - Gen 3
Day 3 - Gen 6:1-13
Day 4 - Ps. 14, 58
Day 5 - Rom 1:18-32
Day 6 - Rom 7:7-24
Day 7 - Ps. 90, 51
Day 1 - Ps. 2Week 3
Day 2 - Isa 42:1-9, 13-25, 43:1
Day 3 - Jer 23:3-6
Day 4 - Jer 31:31-34
Day 5 - Isa 35:3-10
Day 6 - Isa 9:2-7
Day 7 - Isa 53
Day 1 - John 1:1-18Week 4
Day 2 - Matt 3:1-17
Day 3 - John 3:1-21
Day 4 - John 4:7-26
Day 5 - John 5:18-30
Day 6 - John 10:22-39
Day 7 - John 6:28-58
Day 1 - Matt 24:1-28Christmas Eve - Luke 1:26-38
Day 2 - Matt 24:29-51
Day 3 - John 14:1-31
Day 4 - 1 Thess 4:13-18, 5:1-11
Day 5 - Rev 19:5-8, 11-16, 19-21
Christmas Day - Luke 2:1-20
Prayer and music can also be added to the readings to fill out the time more completely.