Countless American Christians, it seems, have decided that the best way to “keep Christ in Christmas” is to recapture the spirit of Advent. As an Anglican, I’m delighted to have watched nearly all my Christian friends—regardless of their denomination—embrace the season over the last few years. People are seeking and finding Christ in deep ways through this observation. Hooray! And more power to them. I have no desire to be an Advent Scrooge. But I worry that many of them will make the same mistake I made: Finding so much value in the Advent season that they forget to celebrate the Christmas season.
Seriously, Advent is huge now. Google Trends indicates that the 2014 search traffic for the terms “Advent” and “Advent wreath” is significantly up from 2013 and has been on the rise for years. The renaissance of Advent seems to have grown beyond Christendom, into the marketplace, where Starbucks and other retailers push the season towards becoming “just as commercialized as Christmas.”
It’s not because Catholicism and liturgical Protestantism are growing. (They're not.) All stripes of Christians seem to be adopting it. John Piper just released a book of daily Advent readings and his church, Bethlehem Baptist, is observing the season. Ann Voskamp’s much-adored Advent devotional, The Greatest Gift, bore a family-adapted sequel this year, Unwrapping the Greatest Gift. Both are among the top sellers in Christian books. Saddleback Church released an Advent app and offered an Advent retreat this year.
Willow Creek had a major Advent sermon series wrapping up last week. Aaron Niequist, who leads Willow’s experimental, liturgical gathering, ...