In my home growing up, Advent was little more than a countdown to Christmas—a countdown to opening presents for us kids. Even while we recognized that celebrating Jesus’ birth was the reason for the season, Advent was not part of our family’s annual rhythm. Maybe you can relate.
Advent is something like a countdown to Christmas, anticipating a big event. The word “advent” is from Latin and means coming or visiting. Expectant waiting for the coming of Christ is the main theme of Advent. Each week focuses on a different posture of anticipation: waiting in hope, peace, joy, and love. Our yearning and waiting is filled with meaning and purpose.
Advent prepares our hearts for Christmas. There is no biblical mandate that we celebrate the birth of Jesus, but the coming of our Savior is most certainly worthy of celebrating. We’re free to enjoy exchanging gifts, decorating our homes, and gathering for parties and feasts; yet, busyness and consumerism can obscure our worshipful intent. Observing Advent centers our hearts on that worship, and closes the gap between the sacred and the secular of Christmas. The articles below help answer your questions about Advent and give you tools to invite your family into a more spiritually focused Christmas celebration.
Bringing Meaning to Advent, by Nadia Swearingen-Friesen -- “I needed to make a choice: Keep the pace or find the peace. Peace only to be found by resting in God's presence.”
Finding Joy at Christmas!, by Kim Sullivan -- “We hear more about joy during the Christmas season than perhaps any other time of the year. The holidays can become so busy that the joy of the season feels elusive. How can we find more joy for our families this Advent?”
Family Traditions: Christmas Trees and Emmanuel, by Nadia Swearingen-Friesen -- “Holiday traditions can feel like a lot of work, but they carry the blessing of drawing us close to God and to each other. We remember in this season that God came to earth in love to draw us close to him.”
10 Tips for a Faith Focused Christmas, by Kim Sullivan -- “In the midst of making the holidays special for our families, we often get so busy and distracted that we forget the reason for our preparations. Keeping Jesus at the center of it all promises to keep our hearts at peace and prepare us for the coming King.”
Choosing Joy over Happiness, Rev. Kelly Vander Woude -- “How do you make everyone happy? That issue faces many of us as we come towards the holidays. We simply want to juggle that happiness for all people because, frankly, nobody wants everyone unhappy.”
Fighting Christmas Discontentment, by Rev. Michael VanderLaan -- “A content person guards the desires of their heart and focuses them on what they have: faith, family, and community. How can you shift the focus in your family to contentment?”
I Pray on Christmas, By Rev. Deb Koster -- “Everyone has favorite Christmas songs that carry the delight of the holidays. My favorite, ‘I Pray on Christmas,’ energetically calls us to prayer, acknowledging our pain and recognizing our need for our savior.”
The Best Present is Presence, Dr. Robert Ritzema -- We give gifts at Christmas because God gave the gift of his son and because the wise men brought gifts to baby Jesus. Perhaps the best gift we can give to those on our shopping lists is not a wrapped present but our loving presence.”
Carrying Advent into the New Year, by Nadia Swearingen-Friesen -- “The time had come to clean, to wrap, to re-box, and to remember. Advent passed. Reality resumed. But how does one hold tight to the Nativity truth when the New Year pushes in?”
From our sister ministry, Today Devotional, What is Advent, by Christopher Hunt -- “Advent is a time of hopeful expectation, a time to reflect on our need for the one who came to ‘save his people from their sins.’”
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Rev. Joel Vande Werken
Rev. Joel Vande Werken