I think we all can agree that our culture tells us christmas is a time to busy ourselves, to spend a lot of money, and be stressed out. A few years ago, our family decided to counteract those natural tendencies and chose to focus on discovering what it really means to celebrate advent, including creating new traditions and rhythms that fit into that value. 

Advent means ‘coming’ or ‘arrival’. The focus of this season is to prepare to celebrate the first coming of christ and the anticipation of the return of Christ for the ‘second advent’. The celebration of advent is marked by a spirit anticipation, expectation, preparation and longing. It is a time to remember that we have not yet ‘arrived’, and that we still live in a broken and fragmented world filled with sin. It is a time to be in touch with the deep yearning in each of our hearts for the ‘wrong’ things to be made ‘right’. It is a cry for those who have and are experiencing the tyranny and injustice of a world that is still under the curse of sin. 

It is also a time to remember where our hope lies. To remember that this isn’t the end of the story. Though weeping lasts for the night joy is promised to us in the morning. This hope is what causes us to anticipate the return of our Messiah, who will bring peace and justice to the earth when He returns. How can we be in touch with our longing and need for our Savior, if we busy ourselves to the point of soul neglect? Advent is an invitation to slow down and treasure the sacred truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

Here are a few ways that our family has reordered our ‘christmas season’ to embrace the essence and purpose of Advent. First, we shifted our focus from a christmas morning build up with lots of presents and the inevitable post-christmas-morning blues to create fun and more meaningful traditions. We are still doing ‘christmas morning’ but only a few gifts and trying to emphasize the value of time spent together as a family. We are blocking off our Sunday evenings to devote to family advent readings. We will pop some popcorn and make hot chocolate and gather around our fire and read scripture that teach us about the anticipation of the first and second coming of Christ. This is our opportunity to teach our children about the meaning of Advent and why we celebrate it. Then, on a personal level, I will be going through a book or devotional centered around advent that will guide me on entering into this season. Here are some resources that you can look into that you may find helpful as you plan how you want to celebrate Advent this season!

Personal (adult) daily devotional:
Download the app “She Reads Truth"  for an advent study that will provide you with daily scripture readings.
The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp
The Dawning of Indestructible Joy by John Piper(available online)
Waiting Here for You by Louie Giglio

Unwrapping The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp - daily devotional readings with pictures
Kids Read Truth: Advent 2016 Table Cards - available to purchase on shereadstruth.com