Sunday past was the beginning of Advent. Most fundamentalists are unaware of Advent. If they have heard of it at all, they assume it is just another name for Christmas. But Advent is a fast; Christmas is a feast. Advent precedes Christmas as night precedes dawn. The Advent season is for reflection upon the reasons that the world needed a savior–reasons that affect every one of us. Christmas is the celebration of the arrival of that savior.
Ryan Reeves offers a good discussion of “The History Behind Advent.” Reeves teaches historical theology at Gordon-Conwell Seminary, and he blogs for the Gospel Coalition.