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Advent – A time of waiting, remembering, and celebrating

Advent is what we call the season leading up to Christmas. It begins four Sundays before December 25, sometimes on the last Sunday of November, sometimes on the first Sunday in December. This year it will be the first Sunday in December.

For centuries, God prepared people for the coming of his Son, our hope for life. At Christmas we celebrate the fulfillment of the promises God made—that he would make a way for us to draw near to him.

The Apostle Peter describes what we look back to during Advent when he said, “The prophets searched carefully and tried to learn about this salvation. They spoke about the grace that was coming to you. The Spirit of Christ was… telling them about the sufferings that would happen to Christ and about the glory that would come after those sufferings… It was shown to them that their service was not for themselves. It was for you. They were serving you when they told about the truths you have now heard.” (1 Peter 1:10-12)

For four weeks, it’s as if we’re re-enacting, remembering the thousands of years God’s people were anticipating and longing for the coming of God’s salvation, for Jesus. That’s what advent means—coming.

Even God’s people who foretold the coming of Jesus didn’t know what God’s salvation would look like. God revealed to them that they were not the ones who would see the sufferings and glory of God’s Christ. They were serving not themselves; they were serving us.

We on this side of Jesus’ birth are a God-blessed, happy people because we know God’s love and life made visible in Jesus. The ancient waiting is over. We have the greatest reason to remember and celebrate.

Check out this link for more on What is Advent?

Family Activity: Make an Advent Wreath

The most traditional project to prepare us for the new liturgical year is to create or acquire an Advent wreath. An Advent wreath typically consists of greenery with four candles, three purple and one pink. Each candle has a specific meaning:

Candle one (purple) represents hope. It is often called the prophets’ candle.
Candle two (purple) represents peace. It is often called the angels’ candle.
Candle three (pink) represents joy. It is often called the shepherds’ candle.
Candle four (purple) represents love. It is often called the Bethlehem candle.
Other ways of representing the candles abound, but the main idea is to remember while we wait.

Many advent wreaths also include a Christ candle in the middle of the wreath which you can light on Christmas Day.

To celebrate with an Advent wreath, you light a candle on each Sunday of Advent. The first Sunday, you light candle one; the second Sunday you light candles one and two, etc. We would give the kids the privilege of getting to light the candles as they got older. You can find readings to go along with the candle lightings on the internet or at Christian bookstores. Or find a Christmas book that represents the theme of the week and read it with your children. We have include four links to devotional resources you can use. For very young kids, you can pull out the main idea and focus on it.

Advent Devotions 1
Advent Devotions PDF 2
Advent Devotions PDF 3
Advent Devotions 4

Our family would do this Sunday afternoon or evening and make it a simple affair with hot chocolate, cookies, or banana bread. As they got older, we’d have crackers, cheese and fruit. The idea is to make it something fun to bring us together and remember God’s coming to us.

There are lots of ways to make Advent wreaths. It is a fun craft to do with kids and adults alike and may establish a new family tradition for you.

Here are a few that I find useful:
A link to a faimly traditional Advent wreath. It does require an electric drill, fine tooth saw and wire cutters so obviously not something to let your kids do on their own. This short video How to make an Advent wreath using old coat hangers.
And here are some other simple wreath ideas.