It’s that time of year again!! I LOVE the Advent season. I think Easter is my favorite holy-day, but the Advent season is a close second! I mean, I love Christmas day and all the fun of Christmas, but it’s Advent that really gets me excited. I love the intentional things we do to consider again the story of that day so long ago when time and history were forever changed by the entrance of God in the flesh. Maybe I should write a Lenten devotional that gets me as excited as the things we do for Advent?? Or, maybe that’s already been done and I just need to find it!
Anyway, in light of the season, and the Advent wreath we are dusting off and the candles we are lighting again on said Advent wreath, I thought I would dust off some old posts I shared Christmas 2011 about Advent. So dust off your own wreath, or book or whatever you use; open your Bible and think again about that wonderful story that forever changed history and our lives…
(and if you’re looking for a link to a free advent activity guide, check out the Thriving Family site!)
Advent reflections: posted November 28, 2011
Yesterday was the first Sunday in Advent, the season including the four Sundays before Christmas when we prepare our hearts to celebrate the miracle of Christmas: Emmanuel, God with us!
In my family growing up, we always “did” Advent in a big way. We had a 5 foot tall Advent calendar that my parents made way back in the 1960s out of old Christmas cards that were the doors you opened to uncover parts of the Christmas story. We had Advent books that included crafts and activities, scriptures and songs. We would sing carols, tell the Christmas story, and of course, light the candles on the Advent wreath. Our Advent wreath was square shaped with pedestals that held votive candles. My sister and I loved to help with the lighting and blowing out of the candles. We talked about what each purple, pink or white candle represented and these things made an impression on me because we did it every year. It was always a favorite part of the season for me, which says a lot for my parents’ diligence to train us about the reason for the season.
Of course now, the tradition continues in my own family. My kids are still young, but we “did” Advent on Sunday night. My husband got out the kids’ play nativity set and talked about the nativity scenes we see and what they symbolize and how each part was prophesied long before it ever came to pass.
Then, we talked about the Advent wreath and the meaning of the different candles. The first Sunday is the Prophecy or Hope candle. These two things go hand in hand. You have to think that Adam sinned and it was another 4,000 years or so before God sent Jesus as the covering for our sin. Because God waited so long to execute His perfect redemption plan, days grew dark. But, God didn’t leave His people without Hope of redemption. He sent messengers who prophesied that Messiah was coming! Prophecy gives Hope. If we know that God is going to act, it causes us to lift up our eyes and have hope that things won’t always go on the way that they are. We have hope for change because God was careful to tell about it long before it ever came to pass.
We tried to talk about these things with our young children and they interrupted a lot with lines of thought that didn’t really seem to make sense. BUT… as The Boy was going to bed he said, “Mom, I can’t wait to do another candle in advent.” Oh yes, it does make an impact.
And so, I hope and pray that my kids will not only love Advent because it adds to the fun and “magic” of this season, but because it will be a real tool to prepare their hearts for another aspect of the miracle of Christmas: He is coming again! Just as the Old Testament is filled with prophecies of the first coming, it is equally filled with promises that Jesus is coming again! These prophecies give us just as much hope in these 2,000 years that we are waiting for the fulfillment of God’s good plan of redemption.
So, buy an advent calendar, book or set and make an advent wreath. Mark off the days and remember the story. It’s not just a fairy tale… It’s our history and it affects our future. If you marvel at the story again this year–even if it feels like a comfortable shoe you take for granted–it will make an impact.
What do YOU use to prepare your heart for the “reason for the season?”