It's that time of year when I admittedly start feeling a bit frazzled. There seems to be so much to do as one prepares for the holiday season. Whether it's the gifts to purchase, the cards to write, the flights to book, the party to host, and the events to attend, while each is wonderful and joyful, it can all start to feel a bit overwhelming. One way to shift the focus back to where it ought to be is by celebrating Advent. For our customers who share our faith, we want to share some thoughts and resources to help your family mark this wondrous time of year.
Advent means coming and is the season of time marked by the four Sundays leading up to Christmas. Traditionally celebrated with an Advent wreath, candles, and appropriate readings, it is a time that one sets aside each day to anticipate the coming of the Christ child. I love this tradition because it makes me pause in the middle of all the hustle and bustle and remember the true gift of Christmas. It also takes me back to those feelings I had as a child, the longing for Christmas morning, the anticipation of the arrival of the baby Jesus and it reminds me of the longing of the world for our Savior.
One more aspect of Advent that I love is that when we celebrate this wonderful tradition, we are joining with millions of other believers, actually acting out the command to be united in our faith. Catholic and Protestant, Orthodox and Pentecostal, people in home churches and those worshipping in cathedrals, believers of every nation, tribe, and language are joined in their remembrance of what an incredible miracle we celebrate each Christmas.
Celebrating Advent with your family is a wonderful tradition as many of you can attest to. If you have not participated in marking this season with your family, I would encourage you to consider it this year. It truly transforms the season from one so easily marked by excess consumption and consumerism to one that is more thoughtful, more meaningful, and truly celebratory.
We Light the Candles: Devotions Related to Family Use for the Advent Wreath
This is a great resource for families who want to incorporate an Advent wreath into their family devotions. The readings are set up for each day making the celebration of Advent very easy.
The Advent Jesse Tree: Devotions for Children and Adults to prepare for the coming of the Christ Child and Christmas
The Jesse Tree is another form of Advent calendar and involves daily readings and the creation of an ornament to place on a tree. Each ornament is symbolic and relates to a specific reading from the Bible. This is a wonderful way for the entire family to participate in Advent and provides readings from the Old Testament attesting to the expectation of the Savior!
The Jesse Tree by Geraldine McCaughrean
This title would be great to use along with the one above as it is beautifully illustrated and would help younger children understand the activities taken from The Advent Jesse Tree. McCaughrean's text tells the story of a little boy who enters a church while a carpenter is working on constructing the Jesse Tree. In lovely prose that would appeal to children of all ages, the stories of the Old Testament are outlined and the meaning of Christmas is related.
Bonhoeffer's Christmas meditations have quickly established their place in the Christian tradition for good reason. His understanding of the joy and gravity of the incarnation causes readers to see how truly marvellous Jesus is. This is an excellent resource for families with older children and for adults who want to add Advent readings to their personal devotion time.
Advent and Christmas, Wisdom from Henri J. M. Nouwen
I love the writings of Henri Nouwen. His understanding of grace transformed my view of God and this little collection of readings is a wonderful way to be introduced to this humble priest. Each day presents a reading as well as a tip for application, making this a book you can put into action.
Watch for the Light, Readings for Advent and Christmas
This is a great collection of meditations from writers like Thomas Perton, Madeleine L'Engle, Dorothy Day, C.S. Lewis, Bonhoeffer, Philip Yancey, and many more. For those of you who want to add something to the traditional Bible readings of Advent, this would be a great addition and provides enough readings to take you right in to the new year.
If you are interested in purchasing any of these books from Beautiful Feet, just give us a call at 800.889.1978 and we'll be happy to help you.
I also wanted to share some online resources to help you with your Advent celebrations:
- Dennis Bratcher provides a thorough and detailed explanation of the Jesse Tree.
- Stacey Schifferdecker tells you how to create your own Advent Wreath and Advent Calendar.
- Christine Sine provides many thoughtful ideas on marking Advent with children including the construction of a manger and resources for seeing how others celebrate Advent around the world.
- Ann Voskamp provides a beautiful Jesse Tree devotional with ornaments and daily readings. A wonderful resource, and it's free!
There are about a million other resources available online and many other great Advent books, but I hope this gives you a start. Please share your favorite resources by leaving a comment below so all our readers can benefit. And we wish you all a wonderful Christmas and holiday season.