Southern Baptists and Advent: Four things to know
1. What is Advent?
Advent is a season of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus and preparation for his Second Coming. Advent, which starts on the fourth Sunday before December 25 and ends Christmas Day, marks the beginning of the Christian church calendar.
2. What is the purpose and meaning of Advent?
The term Advent is an anglicized version of the Latin word advents, meaning “coming.” As Mark Roberts explains, during Advent believers are “reminded of how much we ourselves also need a Savior, and we look forward to our Savior’s second coming even as we prepare to celebrate his first coming at Christmas.” In observing Advent, Christians keep in mind both “advents” of Christ, the first advent in Bethlehem and the forthcoming advent, the “coming of the Son of Man” (Matt. 24:27).
3. How did Advent get started?
In the first few centuries after the era of the apostles, days of feast and fasting were common throughout the year. The oldest document that mentions Advent is a passage in the second book of the History of the Franks by Gregory of Tours, where he says that around 480 A.D. Perpetuus, one of his predecessors, had decreed a fast three times a week from the feast of St. Martin (November 11) until Christmas. In 581 the Council of Macon ordered an advent fast for Christians from the feast of St. Martin to Christmas.
4. Why don’t Southern Baptists celebrate Advent?
With the exception of Christmas and Easter, Southern Baptist congregations in America generally do not observe the days of the Western church calendar. Instead, they tend to follow the pattern of the Puritans, who believed following the liturgical calendar violated their liberty of conscience (many Puritans refused to celebrate any holidays besides the Lord’s Day). Some Baptist churches, however, have begun to incorporate Advent observance in their preparations for Christmas.