December 1st, 2017
As the days grow shorter and cooler (in some parts of the country, anyway) it means that Advent is almost here! During the busy and frantic time leading to Christmas, Advent gives us opportunity to slow down and prepare ourselves for Jesus’ arrival.
This year, Advent begins on December 3. Advent is a time of patient waiting and expectation. We participate in the story of God’s people for centuries, longing for the Messiah to come. During Advent we prepare our hearts for the arrival of Jesus as a baby, and we prepare our world for Jesus to return again.
Families can celebrate Advent together. Children are primed for the symbols and and stories of Advent. Candles, wreaths, and lights for the season of Advent all give kids something tangible to help them enter into the season. Perhaps the easiest part of Advent for kids to relate to is waiting. During Advent we wait…and wait…and wait. We wait for Jesus to come just like God’s people waited for the Messiah to come and save them so long ago. We are still waiting for Jesus to come again.
Five Ways to Celebrate Advent as a Family
Here are a few resources with ideas for ways you can observe Advent with your family this season:
- Create an Advent wreath. Traditional Advent wreaths consist of greenery and four candles, three purple and one pink. Most Advent wreaths also have a white candle to light on Christmas Eve.
The first Sunday of Advent light the first purple candle. This is the candle of hope. Read Psalm 130:5-6 together as a family. “I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,and in his word I put my hope. I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.” Discuss these questions: When is it hard to wait for something? What makes waiting easier for you? What does hope mean?
The second Sunday of Advent light the first and the second purple candle. This is the candle of peace. Read John 14:27 together as a family. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.” Discuss these questions: When do you feel afraid? Who or what helps you when you’re afraid? What does it feel like to be at peace? How does Jesus give us peace?
The third Sunday of Advent light the first two purple candles and the pink candle. This is the candle of joy. Read Luke 1:46-47 and Philippians 4:4 together as a family. “And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” (Luke 1:46-47) “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.” (Phil 4:4) Discuss these questions: What do you look like when you feel joyful? How can we feel joy when things are good? What about when things are bad?
The fourth Sunday of Advent light the first three candles and the last purple candle. This is the candle of love. Read 1 John 3:1 together as a family. “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” Discuss these questions: Who loves you? How do you show someone you love them? How does Jesus coming to earth as a baby show us that God loves us?
On Christmas Eve light the first four candles and the white candle. This is the Christ candle. Read Luke 2:10-11 together as a family. “But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see–I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.” Discuss these questions: What would you do if you saw an angel? Why is the birth of Jesus good news? Who can you tell the good news about Jesus?
Search the internet or Pinterest for dozens of ideas to make your own Advent wreath. Or, here are a few ideas for how to make an Advent wreath for use at home: Traditional Advent Centerpiece, Simple Advent Wreath, Painted Votive Advent Wreath, Non-traditional Advent Wreath.
- Color your way through Advent using devotionals from Illustrated Children’s Ministries. Illustrated Children’s Ministries creates beautiful faith formation resources for families and churches. This year’s Advent for families includes five weeks of simple devotions, coloring pages, and an illustrated Advent wreath craft.
- Sign up to receive a free daily family Advent reading from Sparkhouse Family. Sparkhouse creates books and curriculum to spark kids’ curiosity about God and faith. These are geared for kids ages 3-10.
- Make your own Jesse Tree. Jesse Trees are decorative trees used during Advent to retell the Bible stories that lead up to the birth of Jesus. My Jesse Tree has lots of free downloadable resources to create your own Jesse Tree at home.
- Participate in the Advent Conspiracy. The Advent Conspiracy encourages people to prepare for Christmas in revolutionary ways: Worship Fully, Spend Less, Give More, Love All. Discuss with your family how to redirect your resources of time and money this Advent to love and serve your neighbors.
Whatever you decide to do this year, remember that Advent invites us all to slow down in preparation of Jesus’ arrival. Allow new Advent traditions to enrich and enhance your family’s experience of the season. May your Advent be filled with joyful anticipation and hopeful expectation for our Savior, Jesus, to arrive!