Celebrating Advent gives us 24 extra days to prepare our hearts and minds for the real reason to celebrate. During the holiday chaos, it gives us a daily opportunity to reflect on the Lord's birth and to anticipate His second coming. It serves as reminder not only of Christ's birth, but also His death, resurrection and return.
Earlier this week, a fellow blogger wrote about ways she is celebrating Advent this season and I thought I would share the ways both I and my little family are celebrating. I hope our future kids will anticipate the start of Advent as much as I do each year. I hope that Advent reminds them that the Lord is returning and that waiting (in Advent, life's trials and when awaiting the Lord's return) can be a time of anticipation, growth, encouragement and hope.
Here's how we are celebrating:
(1) Lighting the Advent Wreath.
We light our advent wreath nightly. I received this advent wreath from a sweet family when we got married and it is one of my favorite wedding gifts. Each night, D and I light the wreath, do our advent devotional and pray. I like taking time with my sweet hubby to focus on Christ and anticipate Christmas each day.
(2) Reading through an advent devotional.
We are working through Ann Voskamp's The Greatest Gift advent book. Last year, we worked through one of Piper's advent devotionals, also excellent (and free!)
(3) Celebrating through music.
As silly as it may sound, I try to listen to Christian Christmas carols as much as possible throughout the day. Music is a great format for sharing truth and as I hear lyrics about advent and our Savior's birth, my heart is focused and encouraged. Additionally, the church we have been attending is sponsoring a couple Christmas concerts this month and we are trying to attend at least one of these events.
(4) My own personal advent readings.
A friend posted this advent devotional (by shereadstruth.com) on facebook and I have been following it, plus reading any and all articles I come across regarding the Advent season. Reading an Advent article at lunch or when I first arrive at work tends to refocuse me.
Whether you like it or not, you will be seeing some posts about Advent (if it's not your thing, then come back in January!) I love Advent and tend to talk a lot about it each year. (examples here, here and here ) so I am sure I will be doing the same this year.
(6) Praying Boldly.
Advent is about waiting, longing, peace and hope. Advent and Christmas is a picture of a God that answers prayers and provides in huge ways, including providing a perfect baby to take our place. Advent is also a reminder that God became man-- yes, man - like you and me -- so He understands our pain, betrayal, longing, disappointment. During this time of year, I tend to spend a lot of time reflecting on how privileged we are to serve a God that relates to us and understands. I also tend to lay aside my doubts and fear of disappointment and make BOLD prayers for myself and for others -- for healing, for babies, for marriages, for salvation, for forgiveness.
It's such a special time of year -- a time when we await the baby's birth and the Lord's return, a time where we focus on the manhood of Christ and the fact that he understands our pain and struggles, a time when longing and waiting is celebrated not hated. Advent has always been a source of encouragement in my life, even more so during life's difficult years.
What about you? Anyone have plans to celebrate Advent? How do you celebrate?