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