How Do You Celebrate Advent?

by Hope Sewell on November 28, 2011

in faith, family, kids

No Main Dish Monday today!!  It’s the beginning of ADVENT!!

I know I’ve been a little slow in getting into the Christmas spirit this season but I DO LOVE Advent!!  It really is one of my favorite times of the year.

What exactly IS Advent??
The word Advent comes from the Latin word adventus which means “coming” or “arrival”.  So Advent is the days and weeks leading up to the birth of Jesus.  It’s a time of focusing on the gift of our savior and preparing our hearts to receive Him.  It’s a season marked by anticipation, expectations, longing and hope.  It begins on the Sunday that is closest to November 30th.  So the first day of Advent was yesterday, the 27th.  And it ends on December 24th.

Traditionally, the Christmas season is full of commercialization, toys toys and more toys, social events, decorations, Christmas cards, etc.  All of these things are fine and well but in the midst of busyness of the holiday season we miss the true reason that we even celebrate.  So participating in Advent greatly helps to bring into focus the celebration of the birth of Christ, not only for me, bur also for my children.  And what a reason to celebrate He is.  His life (and death and resurrection) are the hope of all mankind.

We started celebrating Advent about 3 years ago.  I really wanted to make sure that we put the majority of our Christmas focus on the birth of Jesus.  We only had 2 children at the time and they were young so we started with this cute little book.
Getting Ready For ChristmasIt has short daily devotions, and by short I mean a few sentences, a prayer and a simple Advent activity.  My children LOVE this book!!  I have other plans this year and mentioned that they may be a little old to go through this book again and I was met with lots of “awwwww…..but we want to!!!”  So it looks like we’ll be doing it again, which is totally fine with me.
Another thing they love about it is the flaps to lift at the end of each reading time.It’s really something terribly simple but they LOVE it and can hardly wait to lift each flap.  And no, we never jump ahead!!  😉

Another Advent tradition for us is this.  You can find this at your local Lifeway Christian Store.
What Does God Want For Christmas?
I love this because it really brings it on down to the true meaning of Christmas.  Inside each kit, there is a Nativity scene (that you add to piece by piece), a story book with 7 stories, and 7 gift boxes that you open in sequence with the stories.  The book tells the story of Jesus’ birth from the perspective of the angel Gabrielle.  We normally read the first story on the first Sunday of Advent and we open box number one which is the angel Gabrielle himself.  We sprinkle the other stories and boxes throughout the month ending with box number 7 on Christmas morning.  I’ll go ahead and give away the answer to the question, “What Does God Want for Christmas”.  If you don’t want the answer spoiled for you then scroll on down!  😉  Box number 7 contains a mirror.  So the answer to the question is, “me”.  It’s always a special time when we open that box and we get to share the gospel with our children and explain that Christmas isn’t about what we get, but it’s about what we give.  And the gift we give, should be should be an offering up of ourselves to our Maker.

Another thing we’ve done is this book.
The Story of the NativityThis is very similar to the first book “Getting Ready For Jesus”.  It has short daily devotions.  But instead of the flaps in the back, it has a Nativity scene with punch out stickers that you add each day.  The stickers were FRUSTRATING!!  They didn’t stay on so we gave up.  But it’s fine for Lilly to have something to touch and look at.  In fact, she’s playing with the punch outs right now!  😉

This year, we’re adding a new book.
Jotham’s Journey
It’s geared for children ages 4-8.  It’s the story of how 10-year-old Jotham searches all over Israel for his family.  As he travels he has many adventures including run ins with thieves, kidnappers, innkeepers, shepherds, wise men and finally his savior, the baby Jesus.  We started it last night and it is rich with the gospel and God’s truth.

We also have an Advent wreath that we light each week.It’s tiny….like as big around as the palm of my hand.  It measures 3.5 inches in diameter which is perfect for us.  We light the appropriate candles as we read.  One candle is used for each week, the first purple candle, the candle of HOPE. The second and fourth candles are also purple and represent penitence or a time of solemn preparation.  The third candle (for the third week of Advent) is pink and it represents JOY.  It’s a shift from solemn to excited anticipation!!  And then on Christmas day you light a white candle in the center to represent the purity of Jesus.

I know I’m wearing you all out with our Advent stuff but….there’s more!!
We also have a couple of Advent houses.  One I bought several years ago and one we made this year.  (sorry no pics….I’m too lazy to get up, snap and upload;) They are the cutest little houses with little doors that open!!  How fun is that??  Behind the little doors, I put a little portion of the Christmas story for them to read and some Hershey’s Kisses.  That’s been our traditional Advent candy.

If you don’t have daily prayer and a time of reading God’s word with your family/children Advent is the perfect place to start.  Our participation greatly enriches the Christmas season for us.  It prepares our minds and hearts to truly worship King Jesus.
I hope I’ve helped you to understand a bit more about what Advent means.  And I hope you’ll start your own traditions.  And if you already have some Advent traditions, I’d love to hear about them!!

Ecce advenit Dminator Dominus.
Behold, the Lord, the Ruler, is come

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Jessica Steltenpohl November 28, 2011 at 10:17 am

We have “What God Wants for Christmas” too and Anna Lee loves it. Its great to have a nativity that she can actually touch and interact with and not just the “breakable Jesus” as she calls it. We love Advent. Yesterday in Mass was great. Our priest kind of put it into layman’s terms that while we are preparing for the birth of Christ we should prepare as if it were our last day on earth. It was a blunt reminder and really got me into the right mindset. I hope you guys have a wonderful Advent and Christmas Season!

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