I am a self-admitted Christmas fanatic.
I love absolutely everything about this season – the cookies, the decorations, the movies, and especially the music. When mid-November hits, something just clicks inside of me and it’s like instant festivity! My husband, Andrew, came home late last week to hear Christmas music blasting through the house – and his face said it all – “She’s started again! Christmas has arrived in our household!”
As much as I love all the seasonal celebrations and festivities, this season is also one of my favourite spiritually. I love the anticipation that builds as we look to Christmas and celebrating the arrival of Jesus. The way we emphasize phrases like “Emmanuel – God with us”, “Prince of Peace”, and “Son of God” during this season resonates so deeply with me. The presence of Jesus feels especially real and close at this time of year.
Growing up, I always felt this way. I loved the anticipation, the celebration and emphasis on Jesus during the Christmas season – but as a Pentecostal, I had never really heard of Advent. In my tradition, anything ‘liturgical’ was quite foreign. All I knew about Advent was that it was somehow connected to the chocolate calendars we opened each day in December.
That’s not to say my family didn’t have any traditions leading up to Christmas. Christmas music played daily during December, we attended many church functions, and the birth of Jesus held a central place in our Christmas celebrations. Yet, it wasn’t until I went to university and started interacting with those of other Christian traditions that I really began to grasp what I had felt in this season for so long had a name – Advent.
Advent is a term, for those of you like me who may be unfamiliar with it, that is used to describe the four weeks leading up to Christmas Day. It is celebrated in Christian traditions all over the world, and comes from the Latin word for ‘coming.’ This season is intended to create a sense of anticipation and looking forward to the coming of Christ – both the first time in Bethlehem as a baby, and His second coming, when He will return to establish His Kingdom on earth.
Since learning about Advent several years ago, I have become just as much of an Advent fanatic as I have a Christmas one. I love this season and the anticipation it builds. Since we’ve been married, Andrew & I have created our own Advent traditions – having a daily habit in place to build that anticipation and to look forward to the coming of Christ. In my own life, celebrating Advent has deepened my spiritual walk significantly.
In a season that can be so full of busyness, commercialism and materialism, celebrating Advent has allowed me to keep my heart focused on the main thing during the Christmas season – the arrival of Jesus. Participating in a daily habit – even something as simple as reading a devotional together – has deepened my understanding of what Christmas truly means, and grown a love for Christ and hope in what He has done (and is doing) for the world.
Because of my own experience, I am such a firm believer that every family should celebrate Advent. Why?
— It allows your family to stay focused on who Jesus is during this season.
— It builds a sense of anticipation in your children not just for opening gifts on Christmas morning, but for the arrival of Jesus.
— Creating a tradition over this season allows for you to spend intentional moments together as a family. In the chaos and craziness that is the Christmas season, time spent as a family is valuable.
— An Advent tradition is a great way to establish the habit of family time – centered on Jesus – that can carry you into the new year. By the time Advent is over, you will have done something together for 25 days, and it will be woven into the fabric of your family routine.
SO, you may be asking:
Where do we begin?
I’m so glad you asked. I’ve taken the time to create a free, downloadable Advent guide for you and your family. It includes free activities – including one I’ve created myself – 24 days of carols – that will allow you and your family to celebrate the season together. I’ve also included some great Advent resources that you can purchase – these are traditions that you can carry out for years to come together.
While I’d LOVE for you to download the guide – I’m also including some links in this post to some of my favourite Advent resources for you to check out. Whatever you choose to do as a family, the key is to choose something that works for you. For some of you with lots of time on your hands, or you creative types, a more involved tradition that includes up-front work and crafting may work for you. For others of you, simply reading a 5-minute Advent devotional at the supper table may be all you can commit to. That’s totally fine!
Being complicated or crafty isn’t a requirement for celebrating Advent – the only key is commitment! Advent isn’t about what we can accomplish – it’s about focusing on Christ. However you choose to do that with your family, I know you’ll be blessed as you do it.
So without further ado, here are some links:
FREE ADVENT RESOURCES & DOWNLOADS:
Parent Cue: 2017 Generosity Advent Calendar
Lifetree Advent Calendar
Lifeway Kids Advent Calendar
Focus on the Family: “O Holy Night” Advent Calendar
The Christmas Adventure Box
Advent: Christ is Coming! Plan on YouVersion
Lots more ideas at Ministry Mom: Family Advent Resources Pinterest Board
ADVENT RESOURCES I LOVE FOR PURCHASE:
Ann Voskamp’s Unwrapping the Greatest Gift
(Andrew & I have this book, and I absolutely love it! Ann has come out with a new resource this year – The Wonder of the Greatest Gift – which looks equally amazing! Her site – www.thegreatestchristmas.com – also has some great free sources to go along with this devotional.)
Dayspring’s The Shepherd on the Search
(I’ve ordered this as a new tradition for our family to use this year – and I absolutely cannot wait to start. It’s a great alternative to Elf on the Shelf.)
Bake Through the Bible At Christmas
(I want this book. I want to bake all the things in it. I love Christmas, and I love baked goods. Putting the two together to focus on Jesus could not be a better idea!)
The Giving Manger
(This set comes highly recommended by several friends – and looks like an absolute blast!)
Whatever you choose to do, I’d love to hear about it. Celebrating Advent has been such a blessing for me over the past few years, and I’m always open to hearing more ideas. Leave a comment to tell me how your family plans to celebrate Advent.
And if you’d like to receive a FREE PDF download that includes Advent ideas galore – including my own 24 Days of Christmas Carols Activity, all you have to do is leave your e-mail with me.
Can’t wait to hear from you!
Tune in later this week for a Gift Guide, followed by a Christ-Centered Christmas post next week!