First, start here: Where is He? This post really sums up why we do Advent and what we try to accomplish by it.
Advent is not a means to more stuff, more projects, and more busyness on the calendar. It does bring some of that. But the end goal is more purpose, more focus on why we’re doing what we’re doing, more opportunity to read and discuss and study and pray.
What is Advent?
Advent is a season of preparation before Christmas, beginning four Sundays before Christmas (usually the Sunday after Thanksgiving.) “Advent” means “coming” and we spend this season reflecting on and celebrating Jesus’ first coming and looking forward to and preparing for his second. Celebrating Advent is an excellent way of preparing our hearts for the coming and going of our Christmas celebration in the midst of the hustle, bustle and shiny trimmings of the holiday.
Advent is typically observed by the Catholics but more and more Protestants are discovering the blessings and benefits of observing the Advent season. There are many ways to go about your Advent celebration. Some may include an Advent Wreath, some an Advent Calendar. There are Jesse trees, and devotionals, traveling nativities, and many other wonderful traditions. Buried in the many links below you will find information, resources, tips and tutorials for all this and more.
Almost certainly, all Advent celebrations will include daily or weekly scripture readings. At the minimum, you’ll gather each Sunday and read a few verses together with your family. Perhaps you’ll do more, with a full devotional, prayer, songs, and candle-lighting. In any case, you’ll need a plan for scripture readings, and there are several good ones online. Try one of these:
- 25 Hope-Filled Advent Verses | BibleStudyTools.com
- Advent Readings | Crosswalk.com
- Lighting Up Advent | ReformedWorship.org
The most important thing to remember is this — and I mean this whole-heartedly. These traditions are supposed to HELP you focus on Jesus. It is still possible to overplan and lose focus even while doing many good Advent related things. If you find yourself stressed, overwhelmed, frustrated, disheartened, or wearied–LET IT GO. Let something go. We never do ALL these traditions at once, and we only began our Advent journey with one or two, adding new traditions each year that we’ve continued. May you find everything you need here to celebrate Advent with your family, but may you be blessed (and not stressed) in your Advent journey. God bless.
- What is Advent? – Noel Piper, Desiring God
- What is Advent – Christianity.com
- Advent FAQs – American Catholic
Information About Advent:
- Celebrating Advent (About.com) – has excellent, brief, explanations of various symbols and traditions.
- Advent Wreath (Wikipedia)
- Advent Calendar (Wikipedia)
Advent Resources and Materials I Have Reviewed:
- Destination: Bethlehem (our favorite)
- The Truth in the Tinsel
- The Gift of Love (See the Light)
- The Sparkle Box
Other Resources We Own:
- Adorenaments (hard to find these days, if you find one for a decent price – grab it up!)
- The ADVENTure of Christmas
- Celebrating a Christ-Centered Christmas
- Do You See What I See? A Devotional Seek-And-Find for Advent
- A Read-Aloud Family Christmas
More Great Books for Advent:
- Jesus iWitness
- Come Thou Long Expected Jesus
Our Past Advent Celebrations and Series:
(My early posts about Advent are quite simple and are shy on great pics, but you are welcome to read them.)
- 2006 – Homemade Advent Calendar (Paper tubes and fingerpaint)
- 2006 – Traveling Nativity
- 2006 – Our Christmas Tree
- 2007 – DIY Advent Calendar (paper cups and tissue paper)
(In 2008 I began to write about Advent more seriously – I hope you find help here!)
- The Advent Event
- Advent Event: Traditions
- Advent Event: Decorating With Intent
- Advent Event: The Spirit of Baking
- Advent Event: The Spirit of Giving
- Advent Event: Keeping Christ in Christmas, Christmas Morning
- O (Share Your) Christmas Tree
- Keeping Perspective Through the Holidays
- The Gifts of the Magi Revisited
- You’d Better Watch Out, You’d Better Not Cry..
- How We Fired Santa
- The King is Coming! – Intro
- The King is Coming: Expectation
- The King is Coming: Execution
- The King is Coming: Anticipation
- The King is Coming: Culmination
- The King is Coming: Resolution
- Advent-ure 2010 – Suggested Readings
- Advent-ure 2010 – A Jesse Tree
- Advent-ure 2010 – O (Lovely) Christmas Tree
- Advent-ure 2010 – Christmas Centerpiece
- Advent-ure 2010 – My “Faux Mantel”
- Celebrating Advent 2011
- DIY Advent Candles and Countdown
- An Argument for Santa #1 – “But it’s FUN.”
- An Argument for Santa #2 – “He’s Based on Saint Nicholas”
- An Argument for Santa #3 – “It’s Tradition!“
- An Argument for Santa #4 – “The Kids Are Missing Out”
In 2012 we kept Advent very simple. In the middle of a move, I did not have time to write an Advent series, nor was it practical to pull out all our Christmas stuff. We had a very wonderful, simple, Advent year. Read about that here:
Wrapping Up Advent
Again, there is a lot of information here and I encourage you to start with a few small things if this is your first year to do this with your family. We began with our regular Christmas traditions and added an Advent Wreath and an Advent calendar. Our celebrations have grown from there.
The season of Advent actually continues beyond Christmas Day, wrapping up on January 6th, the Day of Epiphany on the Catholic calendar. Use this opportunity to wind down from the Christmas season intentionally, reminding yourself and your family that even though you just spent this month focusing on Christ’s purpose and God’s purpose for us, that we would all do well to seek His purpose intentionally all year long, looking ahead to Christ’s second coming.
May you and your family be blessed this Advent season. The King is coming!