Sunday, December 1, 2013

Celebrating Advent

Today is the first Sunday of Advent.  Our family did not grow up celebrating Advent so the addition of celebrating it has been new to our family tradition.   This will be our 3rd year as a family to observe Advent.  The word Advent means the coming or arrival of something important. 

I've fretted in the last couple of years over finding "the perfect" way to celebrate.  I've learned the important thing is to pause each day to read the Word and reflect.  The guides do not have to be followed to a T.  We miss days.  Some of the resources I've purchased did not work for our family {aka the ones that suggested we do a family craft together each day}.  Even done "imperfectly", it has still been an addition to the Christmas season that has helped take our focus off of the glitter and gifts and pointed us toward the coming of Christ.

This year we are using several different resources.  We will follow along with the Advent guide provided by our church.  We will also decorate a Jesse Tree using ornaments provided from Ann Voskamp's book, The Greatest Gift.  When you purchase her book, she gives you access to free ornaments to use in decorating your Jesse Tree.   The book also includes short, daily readings.  In the picture below, I moved Day 24's ornament to the front so you could see what it looks like.

I loved the idea of having the ornaments strung by ribbon in the kitchen.  Each day we will add a new ornament to our Jesse Tree and read the corresponding stories and scriptures.

Here is a picture of our Advent area.  I chose to place it in the living room since that is where we will gather for our readings each evening. 
We have placed four candles around an evergreen wreath.  The evergreen wreath symbolizes God being eternal.  He is without beginning or end.  Technically there are supposed to be 3 violet and 1 pink taper.  But I'm not too wound up over it being "perfect" and The Dollar Tree only sells red and white.  The center of the wreath is supposed to house a white candle-which will be lit on Christmas Day to represent the purity of Christ.  The middle of our wreath houses our Jesse Tree. 
To make our tree, I pulled bare branches from the yard and stuck them in a vase.  Each evening, we will light a candle, read the scriptures and stories, and add an ornament to the tree.  I am really anticipating watching this tree fill up with meaning and richness.

We will also be reading through Jotham's Journey as a family.  Each night we will plan around 30 minutes to read and celebrate Advent together.  On evenings where we will be out, our goal will be to complete the readings before we leave for our evening event.

Here is a list of supplies I used to create our Advent area, with the exception of the wreath which came from Hobby Lobby, I purchased my materials from The Dollar Tree.  You could also use fresh evergreen to create your wreath!

  • 3 violet tapers
  • 1 pink taper
  • 1 white pillar candle
  • vase
  • branches from the yard
  • The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp (she gives you a code to print her ornaments for free)
  • Jotham's Journey
There is no right or wrong way to celebrate Advent.  The web is full of ideas on creative ways to countdown and build anticipation of the coming of Jesus.  My biggest piece of advice is to not get bogged down with perfection.  It has taken me three years to hang something cute from the kitchen window-ha-and my candles have never been "the right" color. 

There is something so beautiful about seeing the light get brighter and brighter each week as Christmas Day approaches.  I forgot to mention how to light the candles.  This week you light one, the 2nd week you light 2, the 3rd week you light 3 and the 4th week you light 4.  On Christmas Day all 5 candles are lit.  It keeps getting brighter and brighter as the day draws near.  Try it!

(I actually have a small Advent book we're not using this year...if you want it I'd be happy to give it to you.  It is probably more geared toward a family with children.)

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