Do you celebrate Advent? Do you even know what Advent is? The word “advent” comes from the Latin verb “to come” and has been used for centuries by Christians to mark the 4 weeks (of Sundays) preceding Christmas. Advent is not just a time to prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ on Christmas, it is also a time to look forward in anticipation of the Second Coming of Christ at the end of time.
I recently finished reading the book “You Are What You Love: the Spiritual Power of Habit” by James K.A. Smith. While I’m not reviewing the whole book here, I do want to highlight one theme – our habits shape us. The things we do, do something to us. What are some of our cultural habits surrounding the holidays that shape us? It seems like the Christmas shopping season starts earlier every year. We’ve even named that phenomenon “Christmas Creep”. What would it look like to be shaped by something other than Santa and shopping?
Celebrate with the arts
We have an opportunity to be shaped by something different – we can celebrate Advent. If Advent is new to you, there are loads of resources out there to help. I used The Advent Project by Biola University last year. When you sign up (for free), you will receive a daily Scripture reading, accompanying artwork, music, and a short devotional for every day of Advent, and all the way to Epiphany (that’s another post…).
A blog that I have read for many years, The Art of Simple, published a post earlier this week with several helpful links to various Advent resources. She also provides her own Advent devotional (for a small price).
Celebrate with habits
The Common Rule is a website devoted to incorporating different habits into our lives. I’m very intrigued by their ideas, and they have released a special project to help you celebrate Advent. When you sign up (for free), you can download their full Advent resources – Scriptures, devotionals, and music.
Celebrate with a calendar
In my family, we celebrate advent in several ways. We have an Advent calendar. Each day of Advent, the children pull a drawer and read a Scripture passage; instead of candy, they have a miniature ornament to hang on our tree; and there is an activity for us to do together as a family. I do not make these complicated! I incorporate things we are already planning on doing (decorating the tree, hanging stockings, looking at Christmas lights), and easy to plan things (make hot cocoa, read a Christmas book).
Celebrate with a wreath
We also have an Advent wreath and a devotional that we do together as a family when we light the candles on each Sunday in Advent. There are numerous resources online for an advent wreath. Here are three that I find helpful: from LifeWay (includes application activities to practice throughout the week), from Patheos (includes multiple Scriptures, prayers, and songs), and from Leslie Ann Jones (includes Scriptures and discussion questions).
Celebrate with a community
Finally, we worship together with our brothers and sisters in Christ. We sing Christmas songs to celebrate the birth of Christ and build expectation for His return. We hear the word of God preached. Our church this year even provided an Advent box to families to help us celebrate Advent together.
So what about you? How will you prepare your heart to celebrate the birth of Christ? Will you also use Christmas as a time to look forward with anticipation to the return of Christ? How will you celebrate Advent?