Advent Calendar: Games, Apps, and Presents!


The Facebook app sneaks those other app recommendations in so smoothly. I went through the emotions of interest to intrigue to disgust in record time as I discovered, scrolling through Facebook, that someone has found a way to commercialize Advent. I figured it was in the best interest of marketing people to continue to ignore advent and start Christmas earlier and earlier each year. But under my “suggested apps,” I read this:

Advent Calendar 2013 (there’s the interest and intrigue): Discover a new app every day for the 25 days before Christmas! (there’s the disgust).

I had to click on it. The Advent 2013 app promises that you can get into the festive mood while waiting for Santa with daily mini games and daily gifts.

I’m not writing here to rail against commercialization. There are plenty of posts for that, and quite frankly, I’m willing to put up with it. Free market, free society, etc. Not to get too political, but I’m willing to put up with the downsides of an imperfect system. Better to spend a few moments thinking about what Advent really is. And this app reminded me that it’s definitely not the “exciting run-up to Christmas!”

A friend of mine who didn’t observe Advent once explained why: “I don’t like the time of year where we spend a few weeks pretending Jesus didn’t come.” It’s important to remember that Advent is not that, either. We don’t put on an act and pretend to be solemn.

So what is Advent? There are lots of better answers to the question than I can provide, but I had a thought this year that is helping me better get my mind around it. Advent is like starting on page one of your favorite book. You know it’s a great story. You know how it makes you feel. You know the end  but you also know you’re going to love reading it again, probably even more this time around.

I’ll just go ahead and put too fine a point on it. To be even more accurate, Advent is like re-reading Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in 2006. You know the final book is coming. You have some strong hints and theories about how it will end. That’s pretty much where we’re at in the history of the world, isn’t it? And I love returning to page one of that story every single year at this time, not least because I know it’s not just a story, it’s our story. We may only have bit parts in it, but that’s enough. And it’s a joy and a privilege given by grace alone.


  1. Jennifer Kennedy

    I don’t think that it’s like we’re pretending He didn’t come. To me, it’s like looking at or remembering a gift that absolutely delighted me….and I’d go back in my mind and relive the anticipation that this hoped-for thing might be mine and re-imagine that joy that it would bring. I’d also recall the secret dread of disappointment if it never came as I’d hoped it would. The thing hoped-for evolved with age….a doll, a bicycle, a horse, a car, an engagement ring. These little slivers of life…poised on the threshold between hope and despair…reflect in a tiny way the great change for which creation groaned and after which it rejoiced…at the threshold of ANNO DOMINI.

  2. David

    I like the Harry Potter analogy, Travis. To development it a little more, Advent is like re-reading Philosopher’s Stone in 2006, and getting to read an advance copy of Deathly Hallows that same year. You can find past/present/future aspects to all the liturgical seasons, but Advent accents the past/future bookends most sharply — recalling the anticipation of Christ’s first coming while anticipating His final coming and the scouring of old Creation.

  3. David

    Doh. Second sentence should read “to develop” rather than “to development.” Much as I might enjoy torturing “development” into a verb . . .

  4. April Pickle

    “…you also know you’re going to love reading it again, probably even more this time around.”
    I read the story of Adam and Eve to my two younger children last night and it made me so sad I could barely read the words. It seems to break my heart a little more every year, making the rest of the story (the part we know so far) ever more glorious.
    It’s interesting, I used to think that when God told his people to tell the stories to their children and write it on their doorposts, etc., that he was just wanting the story to be passed down through time. Now I think perhaps there was more to it than that. “It gets better,” I hear him whispering. “Better every time.”

  5. Peter B

    April, yes. The more we experience these stories (often aided by a guide like Andrew or Sally), the more deeply we see them and are affected by them.

  6. Cara Strickland

    Advent and Harry Potter? I love this post, thank you.
    I feel just that way, it’s the beginning of a wonderful book, knowing that the last one in the series is coming out soon.

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