The time leading up to Jesus’ birthday is called the season of Advent. Advent is from a Latin word that means ‘coming.’ This season focuses on the coming of the Savior. It begins on the Sunday closest to November 30th and ends on December 24th, the day we celebrate Christmas Eve.
We use the time of Advent to get everything ready to welcome Jesus. Just as families prepare a room when a new baby is expected, God helps us prepare our hearts. How? By thinking about how wonderful God is to give us this special gift of His son.
The days of Advent also give moms, dads, sisters, and brothers a special reason to pray together each day as a family. They can share their excitement, look forward to receiving baby Jesus afresh into their hearts; and remember that Jesus will come again someday.
From Getting Ready for Christmas: A Daily Advent Prayer and Activity Book for the Family, by Yolanda Browne
As we prepare our homes for Christmas this December with decorations, gifts, cleaning, entertaining, maybe a new holiday outfit, and delicious holiday treats, let’s make sure that Christ receives an even greater portion of our attentions.
We have four beautiful weeks ahead of us to prepare our hearts to receive our Savior anew…four beautiful weeks of waiting with joy and sharing our expectation with the people all around us…four beautiful weeks to envision Christ’s return in glory to gather up His faithful followers to eternal life...four beautiful weeks to help our children understand the real reason for Christmas joy.
Here are some questions I am thinking about this Advent season, and I invite you to consider them, too, if you think they might be useful:
- How can I reclaim my sense of joy at the news of Jesus’ birth--God’s great gift to His children?
- What activities and events do I want to experience this month in order to focus my attention on the joy and expectation of this holiday season? (And which activities and events can I let go?)
- When I strip away the commercialism, consumerism, and all the other –isms that have attached themselves to Christmas, what will I do to be ready for a true celebration of Jesus’ birth? How will I celebrate Christmas in a way that reflects my faith in Christ?
- How can I help others—my family, my church community, people in need—share in the joy of this season?
It's easy to get swept up in the exciting, colorful, flashy side of Christmas--and I will do my share of shopping, decorating, and holiday baking, to be sure--but every year I try again to capture the true meaning and spirit of Christmas for myself and for my children. I will share some of my efforts in blog posts during this month of December as we head together again to Bethlehem to peek into the lowly stable and catch a glimpse of the tiny little baby who came to be our King!
Jesus is the world’s greatest gift. He is the gift to be shared above all others with family and friends. It is not only my responsibility to share this gift, but also my joy.
From The Christmas Countdown: Creating 25 Days of New Advent Traditions for Families, by Margie J. Harding