Four Reasons Baptists Should Celebrate Advent

I have provided commentary elsewhere on Baptist’s historical disinterest in the Christian liturgical calendar.  For most Baptists, words like Advent, Epiphany, and Lent are associated with Catholicism and have no place within the walls of Baptist ecclesiology.  That is, in part, the blessing of being Baptist.  Each church decides what is best for them as it pertains to their structure for worship and following a liturgical calendar does not necessarily make a church any better or more pious.  On the other hand, we miss something powerful and special when we pay little to no attention to the structure of a yearly church calendar, one that has been in place for centuries.  So, if you are part of a Baptist church, here are four quick reasons why I believe it would be beneficial for your church to recognize and celebrate Advent.

1. Celebrating Advent helps churches connect the bridge from worship in the 21st century to worship in the early church.  Although we are wise to not make our residence in the past, we nevertheless should appreciate and recognize the importance of what the church has been doing for hundreds of years.  A form of Advent celebration has been in place since the 2nd century.  There must be something of value in taking part of this celebration since it has been meaningful to Christians since the time of the church fathers.

2. Celebrating Advent helps churches spotlight the specifics of Christ’s incarnation, especially in preaching.  When that first Sunday of Advent rolls around, preachers and worship leaders have a unique and blessed opportunity to lead the congregation into a biblical sense of expectation.  There is something “off” when a church waits until the Sunday before Christmas to begin highlighting the birth of the Savior.  Advent moves the church’s celebration of Christmas from plays, dinners, and parties (all of which are great), to a profound sense of Jesus Christ becoming nothing and humbling himself to death, even death on a cross. 

3. Celebrating Advent helps churches lead their people into a period of spiritual renewal and awakening.  Have you noticed how every major Christian author has released a “40 days of (fill in the blank).”  There are 40 Days of Prayer, 40 Days to Build Your Church, 40 Days to Biblical Literacy, 40 Days to a Better Marriage, 40 Days to Physical Healing, and on and on.  These studies are selling like hotcakes and Baptist churches have been leading the charge.  These can be wonderful things and we should take advantage of them, but why not highlight the two most wonderful periods of spiritual renewal that coincide with the two most precious days of the year for Christians?  Those two periods are Advent and Lent – Christmas and Easter.

4. Celebrating Advent helps churches equip parents to count down the days with their children to the coming of Christ, not just the arrival of Santa.  Don’t get me wrong, I am a Santa supporter; me and the big guy are pretty tight.  But unfortunately most parents and children use an Advent calendar to mark off the days till Santa comes, not the days till Christ is born.  Little do they know (especially ironic among non-Christian parents) that their “countdown calendar” is a uniquely Christian tradition that is centered on Jesus Christ, not Santa Claus.  The four weeks of Advent is an incredibly rich opportunity for family worship and devotion in the home, something the church can easily foster by recognizing this period of expectation.     

The first Sunday of Advent is this Sunday, November 27th.  Don’t let this wonderful opportunity pass you and your family by.  I will be posting a daily Advent devotional right here on – I hope they are blessing to you.

2 Replies to “Four Reasons Baptists Should Celebrate Advent”

  1. I actually read an article in Christianity Today about following the liturgical calendar. It was one of those continuum things that showed statements from different pastors about whether they thought the church should follow it. I’ve loved that about growing up Baptist, specifically at FBCE, that Advent was always such a big deal. I guess it’s been one of those things that I appreciate now more in hindsight. Where a few years ago lighting a candle for the Sundays before advent and having some church member stumble over a few verses seemed unnecessary, now it’s a blessing. I think it brings the church together in a unique way because we’re all anticipating something as a body that transcends theological differences. Advent can even help people dive deeper into theology and start eating the meat, so to speak.

    We read the story of the wise men coming to visit Jesus today in Sunday school and I loved it because something new came up. Somehow it didn’t register with me that the wise men were not Jews before. It is awesome to see that the message of Christ and Jesus himself are both universally available (that is, to Jews and Gentiles) right from the beginning! I think that would warrant a fist pump. Word.

  2. I grew up Baptist, and we always had an advent wreath at the churches I attended. I think it’s a great way to anticipate the arrival of Christ’s birth. It’s interesting to me that some people would be so against this tradition because it originated in Roman Catholicism. The advent wreath helps us meditate on Scriptures focused on Christ’s birth and take time to be with God in the midst of a busy season. The fruit of such a practice can be nothing but good. I think I will add one to my home this year…been looking for a way to celebrate Christ’s birth in the midst of all the activity. An hour at the Christmas Eve service and reading the nativity story on Christmas Day just wasn’t enough last year.

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