Have you heard the term Advent mentioned around Christmas? Have you wondered what it is about? If you are anything like I used to be, you have heard of Advent but thought it was some old-school church concept that didn’t have relevance to me. My perception began to change when I had my daughter. I wanted to find ways to make Christmas meaningful, joyful and not simply a time of stress followed by one day of celebration. I wanted to raise my daughter with a deeper sense of what this season is about and counteract the rising consumerism around this holiday. My search led me to Advent.
So what is it? Advent is the season leading up to Christmas with the purpose of anticipating and preparing for the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Traditionally it begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas but many Advent starts from the first of December. There are often candles involved, with a reading and candle lighting taking place each Sunday until Christmas. There is a rich history of Advent being observed. The question for me became, “what do we want Advent to look like in our family?”
Maybe you too are searching for a way to bring more meaning into Christmas. Maybe you would like your children to know the story behind Christmas. Maybe you want a way to extend the joy of the season. Maybe you simply need a way to prepare your own heart to counteract the stress that Christmas preparation can bring.
These are some ideas for including Advent for yourself and your family.
- Get an Advent wreath and candles (or make your own by purchasing 5 candles and putting them on a stand.) Find an Advent family reading plan and spend time together each Sunday leading up to Christmas lighting the candle. There are many reading plans available online or for a small purchase.
- Find a resource such as “Truth in the Tinsel” and include some hands on activities to do with your children to learn more about the story of Christmas.
- Include fun activities like “The Wandering Wisemen” where your children can search for the wisemen each day until they finally discover baby Jesus on Christmas morning.
- Find an Advent devotional for yourself. There are many fabulous ones around. This has become a valued part of my Advent each year as I take a small amount of time for myself to sit and reflect.
No matter how you choose to prepare for Christmas, I hope that you create space to prepare your heart for the story of God coming to earth as a tiny, vulnerable baby with the express purpose of restoring connection with people because of His abundant love. Maybe Advent is the answer to what you have been searching for.
Jodi Koepke is an Advent enthusiast, a mother, a writer and part of the MOPS Australia team. You can find more of her thoughts on Advent and life at her website www.jokoepke.com