Ideas for Advent

Advent

In Advent, as the days become shorter and more of our time is spent inside, we are given the opportunity to create traditions that help us experience Christ’s light and love.  The word “advent” means coming.  The season of advent is a season of expectant waiting for Christ. We watch for signs of Jesus being born in the world today. We remember we worship a God who waits for us to return our hearts to him.

Below are some ways that you can make this Advent season meaningful.  There are individual and family practices below.

INDIVIDUAL PRACTICES

  1. Walk to Bethlehem  This distance from Nazareth to Bethlehem is approximately 90 miles (145 km).  Walking is a great way to think about the journey to Christmas and reflect on your own faith journey.  This resource from the Presbyterian Church in Canada provides useful scriptures, a tracking chart and reflection ideas for walking to Bethlehem during  Advent:  WalkToBethlehem_sheets (1)

2.     Try an advent devotional  The Presbyterian Church in Canada will send you a daily devotional by email for no cost.  This program is called Presbycan devotionals.  You can sign up for a devotional here:  https://presbycan.ca/subscriptions

3.    Purchase or borrow a faith based book to read during Advent.  Below are a few suggestions:

Celebrating Abundance by Walter Brueggemann

Learning to Walk in the Dark  by Barbara Brown Taylor

The Greatest Gift:  Unrwapping the full love story of Christmas by Ann Voskamp

On this Holy Night (a collection of short stories) by Max Lucado, Rick Warren, David Jeremiah, John Maxwell, Jack Hayford and Bill Hybels.

4.   Try Meditation.  Create a quiet space in your home.  Light a Christ candle to remind you that God is present in the midst of this busy season.  Turn off the TV, the radio, your cell phone.  Focus on a different scripture for 10 minutes.  Set a timer, so you don’t cheat!  Read it out loud several times, leaving time in between to reflect on the words.  When your mind wanders to “to do lists” or worries, redirect your thoughts back to the scripture. What is God’s message for you today?

Here’s some scriptures to try:

First Week of Advent

Sunday Romans 13:11-14

Monday 1 Corinthians 1:3-9

Tuesday Mark 13:33-37

Wednesday John 1:1-5

Thursday John 1:6-9

Friday Jeremiah 33:14-16

Saturday Isaiah 6

Second Week of Advent

Sunday Romans 15:4-13

Monday Psalms 43:3-6

Tuesday Psalms 27:1-4

Wednesday Psalms 119:105-106

Thursday John 12:35-36

Friday Ephesians 5:6-14

Saturday 1 Peter 2:5-9

Third Week of Advent

Sunday Isaiah 60:1-3

Monday 2 Corinthians 4:3-6

Tuesday 1 John 1:4-7

Wednesday John 3:16-21

Thursday Isaiah 40:1-11

Friday John 9:1-7

Saturday Luke 3:1-6

Fourth Week of Advent

Sunday Isaiah 11:1-10

Monday Zephaniah 3:14-17

Tuesday Matthew 1:18-25

Wednesday Luke 2:8-20

Thursday Matthew 4:14-16

Friday Isaiah 2:1-5

Saturday Luke 2:25-33

 

FAMILY PRACTICES

  1.  Decorate a Jesse Tree
Jesse Trees are a very old Christmas Tradition and first started in medieval times. They are used to help tell the story of the Bible from creation to the Christmas Story.  The name comes from Jesse who was the Father of the great Jewish King David. One prophecy in the Bible, in the book of Isaiah, says:  1 A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
2 The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him– the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD–
3 and he will delight in the fear of the LORD. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears;
4 but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth.
Isaiah 11:1-4 (NIV)

A branch is a sign of new life and new beginnings. Jesus was a descendent of King David and Christians believe that Jesus is this new branch.  The first Jesse trees were large carvings, tapestries or even stained glass windows put in Churches that helped illiterate people (people who can’t read or write) to learn about the Bible from creation to the Christmas Story. But now Jesse Trees are used as a kind of Advent Calendar. You can use a normal Christmas tree or a banner in the shape of a tree. Each day through advent (or sometimes just on the four Sundays of advent) a special decoration or ornament, that tells a story from the Bible, is hung on the tree.  There are very many different stories and symbols you can use

To find daily family devotionals, ornaments for kids to colour, and scripture readings related to the Jesse Tree, check out this website: https://www.rca.org/resources/jesse-tree-family-devotions

2. Advent Calendars – Do them differently!

Sure – open your advent calendar and eat a little chocolate, but why not add a different kind of advent calendar into your traditions.   for example – write down 25 different names of people your family knows who you think you should hold up in prayer.  Each day, draw a name and pray for that person.  OR …   Place a large box in a corner of your home.  Every day in Advent, place a different food item in the box. As you place the item in the box, pray for the person who will receive it. May they be given hope, peace, joy and love in their life.   On Christmas eve, donate the box to the Food bank.

3. Family Advent Candle Lighting 

. Create an Advent Wreath at home with 4 candles on the outside and 1 in the middle. Each Sunday evening at dinner time, do a short devotional or prayer before lighting the appropriate candle.  A good resource for a family devotionals is here:  Family-Devotions-for-Advent-and-Christmas (2)

4. Instead of reading all the Santa books/videos before bed, try out some of these (you might even find them in the church library!)

The Crippled Lamb by Max Lucado

The Very First Christmas by Paul Maier

Room for a Little One – A Christmas Tale by Martin Waddell