Saturday, December 1, 2012

Observing Advent {week one: light}

In the past we have done fun advent activities. Candies and treats and special surprises awaited the kids daily, and they scramble every morning to see what was inside. But this year, in the quest to keep things simple, we decided to do something different.

So we are observing Advent. Old school style. The religious history of Advent is beautiful, centered on preparing our hearts for the coming King. It is a ceremony observed weekly, including the lighting of candles and the reading of Scripture. Historically, this is observed each Sunday before Christmas. This is our year for preparation, for Advent.

I didn't have any devotional books on hand, so I did some research and found a few resources online with Scripture. True to our family's ways, I pulled from here and there and mashed them up into something that would work for our family.

This year we will celebrate Advent on Tuesday evenings. I know, I know. The traditional thing is to celebrate on Sunday, but tradition doesn't take into consideration the craziness that Sunday brings to the family of a pastor. Tuesday happens to be the first evening of the week when we normally all have dinner together. And this year Christmas falls on a Tuesday. So it works wonderfully. Starting this Tuesday, December 4, we will sit down together and do Advent as a family.

In our family this is all about focusing on the reason we have Christmas in the first place. It's about preparing our hearts to receive Jesus, and then go give him away. We will read a Scripture each week that focuses on that.

Here's a quick run down on what we'll be reading this week, in case you're curious and want to do something similar with your family.

Week One: Light

Isaiah 40:3-5 says:
"A voice of one calling: “In the desert prepare the way for the Lord ; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
As we light the candle we will talk about the light of the world. In John chapter 8 Jesus calls himself the light of the world. He came for light, to bring hope and light to a world that desperately needed it. A world not any different from our own. He gives us light to bring life to our lives, so that we can in turn be light to those around us. We will discuss light through storytelling. We will share stories about our kids and things we've observed about them, "I remember one time when Levi showed light by...." Insert your own stories here. The point is to encourage each other in simple ways that you can bring light to your homes, your neighborhood, your community. The options to do this are as varied as the places you live and as individual as your own families. Be creative, dream with your kids. That's what we'll be doing. It's not a big involved time to get all preachy, but a time to reflect and dream. Jesus' coming should have a profound affect on your lives, and then it should ripple to the people around you.

Finally, we will pray together. We'll pray prayers of thanksgiving for the Light of the world. And then we'll ask for his help to spread the light around.

I fully expect that this will be a struggle, the sitting down together and marking the coming of Christ. I know it because, just as sure enough as Christ came, there is an enemy who wanted to see him defeated. And so we will be persistent in this time together. And I know it will be worth the effort.

I'll post week two next week. And I'll dish honestly on how this went down in our house.

So tell me, have you ever done this sort of thing with your family? And if so, how'd it go? Any tips for a newbie like me?


  1. I miss my children being here, and being little. It was precious last year when my son read the Christmas story for us on Christmas morning and he wept. I wouldn't miss that for all the Christmas presents in the world. He is 25 and I treasure the time we are able to spend with him. This year will be simple here as well. More focus on relationships is where I am at as well. Have a blessed week.

  2. I love your simplicity Gina and focus in getting back to the basics of Christmas with your family. I hope to celebrate Advent with my future family in that way and learn and grow together. I pray you have a blessed weekly time together in preparing your hearts for the Lord. Much love, jp


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