What is Advent?
Advent is a tradition that many churches have forgotten but has been an integral part of how the church has celebrated for thousands of years. The word “advent” means arrival or appearance and is intended to generate anticipation of the Messiah coming into our world.
How is Advent different from the “Holiday Season”?
Advent is the intentionality of making everything centered on Christ. It is common for us to practice centering this time on commercialism, magic, presents, Santa Claus, and then only say, “but the true meaning of Christmas is Jesus”. Rather than just say this, let’s live it. We should ask ourselves, how can I make this activity, gathering, or tradition focused on Jesus? We are called to be worshipers. For the time that we have specifically set apart to celebrate God’s gift to the world, Jesus, we ought to want to worship him in all things – thought, word and deed. So what makes advent different, is reforming our traditions to be completely Christ-Centered.
When is Advent?
This year Advent start on November 25th and over the weeks that lead up to Christmas Day, families participate in activities that direct their attention to the arrival of Jesus, and what that means for humanity.
Make memories with your family, start new traditions, or embrace old ones. What’s most important is finding a way worship with a Christ-Centered heart this season. Chose to celebrate Advent with your family and others in a way that is fun, meaningful and honors God!
Ways to Celebrate Advent
1. Make a Jesse Tree. This is a small little tree that you can create or purchase, any style that has several branches. Make some ornaments to hang, each ornament can be a picture or symbol of a story from the bible that leads up to Jesus. The idea is each day you hang a new ornament and read through scripture that tells the story of God’s love for man from Creation all the way to Jesus. In Isaiah, God says “There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him”.
2. Get an Advent Wreath. This is similar to a wreath you might hang on a door, but these lay flat on a table top and have four candles and one larger in the middle. Each week your family will light a candle until finally you light the large one in the middle on Christmas Day. You might accompany this by evening prayer and a short devotional and may be done before or after dinner, once or multiple time a week.
3. Go Christmas Caroling! A neat way to reach your neighbors. People enjoy singing the tunes of Christmas and it’s a great way to share joy of Jesus. After your song set at each home, you can offer prayer and converse with them about Jesus, your Missional Community Group or the Church.
4. Choose a way for your family to serve. This is an awesome means to help alleviate the self-centeredness that comes from an abundance of gifts and secular ideals instilled into us. Be intentional, don’t simply donate your leftovers or things you have to spare, but do something out of love and sacrifice to others around you.
5. Set up a Nativity Scene in your home. One thing you can do differently is to put all of the pieces in different parts of you home. The Magi in one corner or room, the shepherds in another and Mary and Joseph in another, and hide the baby Jesus. Each day you can move each piece a little closer to the manger. As you do this you can excite your kids about what the journey would have been like for each of the sojourners and read the stories from scripture that accompany each character. On Christmas day you can have all the characters arrive and place baby Jesus.
6. Find an Advent Calendar. This is a neat tool to teach your kids patience! It can be made of cardboard, hardwood or a number of materials. This has 24 little doors that conceal a candy. On Christmas Day there is a special treat, maybe a larger candy or a toy of some kind. Each day you can discuss a different principle of depending on Jesus and what a joy he is when he comes into our world.
7. Host Birthday Party for Jesus! As the days count down you can get your kids involved in helping to prepare for the party. Will you have cake, presents, songs, decorations? This can be something that you invite others to if you so wish and make it a community event – Go as big as you want.
8. Create a Paper Chain Garland. Each day you can write a short bible verse or someone you want to pray for. Make it as festive as you can! Coordinate colors, markers, glitter etc. You can hang this around the tree or over a window ledge or on the fireplace mantle.
9. Hold a Talent Show. Allow each of your family members to use their talents and creativity to make a contribution that displays their love for Jesus. Tell a story, write a poem, sing a song, paint a picture, perform a skit. You can have each person do something once a week or all in one day however it fits for you. Remind each person that they are offering their talent or gift to God with family enjoying as well, rather than just a performance for family.