Family Advent Adventures

16 11 2011

Did you know that Christians have a calendar – the church year? Of course, those of us who follow the church year live our daily ins and outs of life by the usual January to December calendar. The Christian church year is a series of seasons, not unlike Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter.  It is a cycle of seasons guiding our faith journey, pointing our hearts back to God who created, loves, and renews us through Jesus Christ.This calendar begins 40 days before Christmas, with the season of Advent. Advent is then followed by twelve days of Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, and Pentecost. Each season represents a part of Jesus’ life and ministry. The 2011-2012 church year begins on Sunday, November 27th, a few days after Thanksgiving.
Advent focuses on the prophecies and awaiting the birth of a messiah king who will comfort and save a broken people, stuck in bondage needing hope, love, joy and peace. In churches observing Advent traditions you’ll most often find an advent wreath with five candle – four representing the coming of Jesus and one to represent Christ’s presence. Each Sunday in Advent a new candle is lit to mark this time of waiting and anticipation. The fifth candle is lit on Christmas Eve/Christmas Day to mark the birth of Jesus.

I do believe Advent is my favorite season of the church year, even more than Christmas. I love the focus on hope, peace, comfort, joy and anticipation. A feeling I wish could last all year long. Perhaps we need to endure sadness, anger, frustration and loss to really experience the hope and joy that comes with anticipating and celebrating a savior. 
Advent also invites much creativity when it comes to observing. Our family (now and in my childhood) observed Advent by lighting candles on our own little wreath each night at dinner. On Sundays we added reading a scripture, maybe singing a song and then a prayer. We also have the countdown calendars (candy as a kiddo) and my children use a velcro nativity characters calendar. How might you observe Advent in your home or how might you introduce this tradition to your grandchildren, nieces, and nephews?
If you pop into most any bookstore (especially the Christian ones – Amazon.com, Family Christian Bookstore, Cokesbury, Lifeway, and a few independent stores in our community) you’ll find books, calendars and more to choose from. I’ve noticed even the toy stores (Toys R Us, and the independent stores), Playmobile, Fisher Price, and Lego have created Advent and Christmas toys for children. 
Or simply make your own wreath or calendar- with the children – this might be the most fun and best memory making option. 
Wreaths: Find five candles (three blue or purple, one pink, and white) and containers, then arrange the four colors in a circle with the white in the center.One of my favorite easy wreaths is a clear glass bowl, adding sand or pebbles, and arranging votives candles.
Calendars: Create 25 pockets/holders or markers of sort to countdown to Christmas. Something I’m hoping to try with my children this year is gathering 25 books that contain stories of Christmas (Christian and Secular), wrap them up like gifts, put them in a large basket, and each night of Advent they can unwrap a story to read at bedtime.
I love to go on the internet and look for ideas to get my creative juices flowing. Check out the collection of ideas I’ve put together on my Pinterest account if you’re looking for some new ideas: http://pinterest.com/leenaprindle/advent/.
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28 11 2011
on the chancel steps

Thanks for joining me on the chancel steps! Your ‘thanks’ made my day! Now I’m enjoying looking through your world. My suggestion for a good Advent/Thanksgiving/Christmas book that really isn’t about any holiday is The Table Where Rich People Sit by Byrd Baylor (1994): a young girl tries to convince her parents that they need jobs which make money and learns that some income is not monetary…a beautiful lesson. I’ll visit again.

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