With less than a month until Christmas, there are many preparations to make. But can the preparations go beyond shopping, decorating, writing, and baking? In history, the Church has observed Advent. Many churches and families still do. What is Advent?
The word itself means, "coming" or "arrival". To celebrate Advent means to celebrate the coming or arrival of Christ. Not only was He the baby in the manger sent to save the world from sin and death and to bring people back to God, He is coming again. This is both a cause for celebration and a cause for sobering ourselves. Will He find us faithful? Will we be ready?
Advent is a time of getting ready. A time of longing and expectation. As Christmas approaches, we can think of ways to focus our hearts and minds on Jesus. One way is through the lighting of candles. Traditionally an Advent wreath with four candles for each of the four Sundays of Advent (this year starting with November 30), and a candle in the centre to represent Jesus are lit each week (or each day of the week) until all the candles are finally lit on Christmas Day. The increasing light reminds us that Jesus is the Light of the World and His coming dispels the darkness. Each candle represents a theme and/or part of the Christmas story. One example is hope, peace, joy, love.
Advent calendars with a window to open each day help build anticipation. A little creativity could add extra meaning to each day. Another idea is to hanging Advent stockings (or socks), enough for each day of Advent. Inside each one could be a Bible verse, a carol to sing, a story to read, or an activity to do.
Getting ready for Christmas can go beyond the usual to bring more meaning and focus. Celebrating Advent is one way of slowing down to take time each day to think about Jesus' coming to earth 2000 years ago and what that means to us today. It can also help us look ahead, seeing Jesus as the coming King. Your celebration of Advent doesn't need to be complicated. It could be lighting a candle at supper-time. Anything we do to give Jesus time in our lives is worth doing!
Background on Advent
A New Way to Celebrate Christmas
Advent Devotional by local author
Visual Inspiration for Stockings
A few Activity Ideas
Here is a story from one of the moms who drives for Masterworks as a volunteer.
I have been driving for Masterworks for three years now, last year and this year with my husband. We drove three kids last year, now we drive 8. I can't begin to describe how these kids are impacting my life.
The first Wednesday back this year we went to pick up our little friends when the little 7 year old saw me her little mouth dropped, her beautiful big brown eyes got huge and she ran and gave me a huge hug. Then she whispered in my ear if the "funny guy" (my husband's nickname from the kids) was here too! This was merely one time that my soul was touched by a beautiful little girl that God has put in my life.
I also enjoy the fact I am able to connect with some of the parents if for only a brief moment. To share with them how awesome their kids are!
Some Wednesdays have been chaotic, but to have the kids' smiles, laughter, silliness, and hugs makes it worth while. I don't look at this as what I do for them but what God is allowing these beautiful awesome kids to for me! God is using these kids to impact me! I feel very blessed because of this program.
What do you love about your art form?
I love the inherent beauty in ballet as well as the amazing body awareness that it builds in students.
What do you enjoy most about teaching?
I enjoy helping students reach their goals and inspiring them to pursue their passion.
Why do you teach at Masterworks?
I love being able to talk about God in the dance studio! Faith and dance have never before come together for me in such a harmonious way.
What else do you do in life?
I'm so fortunate to dance every day in the Royal Winnipeg Ballet's Teacher Training Program. I would list some other hobbies such as playing piano, going to see as many dance and music shows as possible, and any active outdoor activity. Particularly kayaking in summer and skating the river trail in winter.
What is your favourite season and why?
Fall. The crisp, cool air and stunning array of colours in nature along with the constant prairie wind make for a beautiful time of year.
What is your favourite healthy snack?
I grab an apple every morning before classes start for the day and also enjoy mixing together fruit and yogurt for a delicious smoothie anytime.
What do you like to do to relax?
I love to sit down with a cup of tea and get lost in a good novel. I'm enjoying the classics currently.
What was your favourite book/movie as a kid?
I have always loved movie musicals (and still do). Julie Andrews inspired me as a child in The Sound of Music and Mary Poppins.
What kills your creativity? What feeds your creativity?
A creativity killer is very often me! If I let self-criticism and negativity infiltrate my thinking, I shut myself down pretty quickly.
I thrive creatively when I take time to journal, to pray, to meditate, and also to play and not take myself too seriously! Mostly though, it's God that inspires my creativity. The new life that He gives us awaits discovery and expression.
What is a favourite Scripture verse for you?
1 Peter 1:22 in the 1996 version of the NLT.
"Now you can have sincere love for each other as brothers and sisters because you were cleansed from your sins when you accepted the truth of the Good News. So see to it that you really do love each other intensely with all your hearts."
What piece of advice would you give to someone pursuing or wanting to pursue their creative dreams?
Lots of people tell you to dream, but not many tell you how hard it actually is to achieve your dreams. Set goals for yourself and go after them even if they sound crazy and then push yourself to achieve them. You'll be amazed at what you're capable of!