Yesterday we celebrated New Year's day. Not the traditional New Year of Western culture, but the liturgical New Year. Advent. The term refers to a coming or arrival. In protestant Christianity Advent is the liturgical period preceding Christmas and starts on the fourth Sunday before Christmas. You will not find Advent in scripture. There are no verses that tell us when and how to celebrate it. It is actually a set of traditions adopted by the Christian church. It helps us understand the truth of Christ's birth and provides us with a way of expressing it within our lives. Advent begins at the darkest time of the year, when the days are growing shorter and the nights longer. During this period we are not celebrating Christmas, but anxiously preparing for it. It is an expression of how we can have hope in the darkest of times. This hope is possible because we know that a Savior is coming. The real celebration does not begin until Christmas, the day that we celebrate Christs's birth. You may be saying to yourself "But Jesus wasn't actually born on December 25th!" The church did not pick a day in the dark of winter for historical accuracy. One of the reasons Christmas is celebrated in December is because celebrating at this time of year provides a more vivid picture of the reality that we are celebrating- that while we are toiling in a dark world, full of sin and pain, we have hope because of Jesus. All for now.