Advent: Reclaiming the Spirit of Christmas
One very special way our family celebrates the Christmas season is to have “Advent time” together in our home. Advent is a season where believers in Jesus Christ remember His arrival on earth as a baby in Bethlehem and ready our hearts for His return to earth as the Lord of all. Some of our favorite family memories were born during these sacred, and dare I say, silly moments huddled around our fireplace, reading from the Bible by candle light.
Our first year was filled with laughter and we all remember it warmly. The second year we decided it needed to be a more “spiritual” and reverent. That particular year is remembered more for me turning into Nurse Ratched than for anything remotely spiritual. And, quite frankly, much of the boys’ potential heart-warming, memory-making stuff went right out the window when Dad sent them to their rooms right after Advent time. Allow the laughter, allow the interrupting questions, enjoy your family and this will be special.
In the middle of life’s worries and hectic pace, I offer your family this opportunity to slow down, gather together in a cozy spot, and make some beautiful, life-enhancing memories of your own. I’ve put together some simple, no-fail resources and tips for you to use to experience the Spirit of Christmas with those you love in your own home.
The first Sunday of Advent is November 30th this year. There are countless ways to go about holding an Advent service. For those who might not know where to begin, I will be posting our own personal Advent service on each Thursday between now and Christmas.
It is my sincere hope that in the middle of all the hustle and bustle of this holiday season, you will draw your family closer by drawing closer to the One for whom Christmas is named.
TIPS TO REMEMBER; PITFALLS TO AVOID
Enjoy. Let it be reverent but also FUN. This is family time with God.
Be Flexible. If you can’t meet on Sunday, make plans for another day. Flexibility is a gift you give yourself that helps you succeed instead of giving up in frustration.
Keep it simple. When our boys were small, with attention spans to match, we found that singing easy songs they knew (like Jesus Loves Me This I Know, Go Tell It On The Mountain) worked well.
Plan it out. Include each member of the family in planning and carrying out the service. If you have more than one child in your family, it is highly recommended that the candle lighter and candle blower-outer are assigned in advance to avoid a spirit-dampening meltdown.
Don’t Forget the Wreath. At the very least you need five candles, but if you would like some ideas for making or buying your wreath, Brian helps guide you through the process with his post “Advent: How To Make An Advent Wreath”
The Music. Singing is an important part of the Advent service. Pick songs that your family knows or that they can easily learn. You don’t need a guitar or piano player to sing together. We often sing with no music except our voices. Sometimes we sing along to songs on our laptop computer (MP3s or songs downloaded from iTunes). You can also use a CD player. Just remember, don’t just listen to the song…sing along!
THINGS YOU’LL NEED
- Print out the service I post each Thursday
- Selected Songs (and words printed out if your family doesn’t know the words)
- Five candles (or Advent Wreath)
- Lighter or matches
BASIC OUTLINE OF ADVENT GATHERING
- Bible passage
- Short talk of how the passage applies to us
- Lighting of candle
- Closing prayer