“Advent begins four Sundays before Christmas and ends on Christmas Eve. During Advent we “wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior Jesus Christ,” in the phrase used each week in the Catholic Mass. Advent is about Jesus’ coming; even the word advent means “coming.” We celebrate the threefold coming of Jesus. We remember His coming in the past as a baby in Bethlehem, born to redeem the world. We are thankful for His coming into our hearts in the present, as we make more and more of our lives available to Him, to be used as He wishes. And we look forward joyfully to His Second Coming at the end of time when all people shall be judged and all creation shall be purified and perfected.
The Christmas story is, simply put, the most beautiful story in the world. The four lovely weeks of Advent allow us to take this story out each year and examine it. Like a jewel that sparkles in different colors when it is held up to the light and rotated, Advent lets us see the Christmas story from different angles. We sense the longing of the prophets who foretold Christ; our hearts wonder with Mary, rejoice with Elizabeth, empathize with Joseph, and thrill with the shepherds.
Advent reminds us, too, that while Christmas was glorious, it was human sinfulness and estrangement from God that made it necessary for Jesus to come to earth. So we are reminded of our spiritual lives, and of our need to be found walking in righteousness when He comes again in glory. Mostly Advent gives us a chance to remember and pay homage to the most beautiful part of the Christmas story: the incomparable, miracle-working, ardent, relational, self-sacrificing love of God for the people of the world.”
Yours Is the Day, Lord, Yours Is the Night: A Morning and Evening Prayer Book