My favorite time of the year is a (way-too) brief four week period called Advent. This is the traditional beginning of the church calendar. It’s the space where we sit in eager anticipation of the coming of the Messiah. We place ourselves into the story as Zechariah, Elizabeth, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Micah, Joseph, and Mary. We rest in the thought that our hope–joyful and confident expectation in the goodness of God–is soon to be reality.
We want to take this opportunity to point you to a couple of ideas to help make this season of Advent a time for your family to walk out that eager expectation. Ways that you can WALK and not RUN between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
It is important for us to take this space. It is critical that we learn to live in the in-between place. That place where we know that there is a promise, yet that promise remains unfulfilled.
I would urge us all to take the space this year. Take the pause and deep breath that Advent affords. I would urge us to breath in deeply the wonder that is this season of Advent.
First, for those of you who aren’t from a tradition that follows the seasons of the Church, here are a couple of links that provide some background understanding into the season of Advent.
The Season of Advent from Christian Resource Institute (Great related pages with devotionals, Scripture readings, homilies, and liturgies)
Advent resources from the General Board of Discipleship of the United Methodist Church (Great source with liturgies, readings, meditations, prayers)
Here are a couple of ideas for you to celebrate the season of Advent in your own home. These are things that we have done as a family.
Make an Advent Calendar.
This can be as simple as making a calendar in Numbers or Excel and counting down the days of Advent to Christmas. It can be more complex like making an Advent Chain (Here’s one that gives you a Scripture lesson to read as a family each day.)
Read the Jesus Storybook Bible as an Advent Devotional
I’m going to link you out to another blogsite for information on this one. I came across this idea the other day. It’s something we’re going to do as a family this year.
If you’re not familiar with Jesus Storybook Bible, then you’re missing out. This is hands-down the best Children’s Bible on the market. Sally Lloyd-Jones does a remarkable job of taking the major stories of the Scriptures and illustrating how Jesus is seen in that story. The graphics (done by Jago) are some of the most interesting and beautiful artwork I’ve seen. This book is a favorite in our house (and the houses of everyone we know who has a copy). You can read more about it (and order it) by following the link at the bottom of this post.
Light the Advent Candles as a family
We started doing this a couple of years ago, and it remains a favorite of our family. We light the candles at dinner time on the Sunday of each Advent week. We use one of the readings on the GBOD Advent page (the link is the second link in the introduction of this post), a reading from the Book of Common Prayer, some other resource (online or in hard copy), or I will use a variety of resources to create one of our own. We will burn the candle(s) throughout the week, and add the next candle each Sunday. On Christmas Eve, we light the Christ-Candle and wait in expectation for the Messiah to come.
Follow this blog
As we have done throughout Advent (and Lent) for the past couple of years, we will again be blogging our way through the Advent Lectionary readings. This series takes us through the season of Advent with a series of devotional thoughts based on the Lectionary readings for each of the four Sundays in Advent. As we have done in the past, we will again be inviting guests to contribute their perspectives during this series as well.
We have had people tell us that they have used these posts as family devotionals. If you’d like to receive these posts in your email each morning then you can sign-up for that by entering your email address in the box on the right-hand side of this page (labeled: Sign up for New Post Emails).
If you’d like to see what we had to say in the past, then here are the entries from 2011 and 2012.
|The Jesus Storybook Bible, Deluxe Edition with CDsBy Sally Lloyd-Jones / ZonderKidzIntroduce your children to the story behind all the accounts in the Bible! From Noah to Moses to King David, every chapter points to Jesus. This deluxe slipcased edition of the award-winning book features gilded page edges, a ribbon marker, and the unabridged companion audiobook on two CDs. 352 pages, beautifully illustrated hardcover from Zonderkidz.|