Advent begins today. Advent is the Christian observance that starts four weeks before Christmas. It is a time of spiritual preparation that represents the time of waiting for the second coming of Christ. In the western liturgical tradition it is the start of the Christian year.
My family doesn’t attend a liturgical church, but we adopted the practice of Advent as an antidote to the worldly focus that Christmas in America tends to take on. It’s harder to get consumed with materialism when you take time each night to stop, light candles, read scriptures, and focus on the true meaning of Christmas.
Because I wasn’t raised celebrating Advent, I sort of created my own way of doing it. Please don’t comment and tell me I’m doing it all wrong. It works for us and we love it. We have a wreath I made myself. For several years, our wreath was silver grapevines with silver bead garland and sparkly trims on a mirrored tray with crystal candle holders. This year, our wreath is green with red berries, gold leaves, holly and poinsettias.
Each night we light the requisite candle or candles and read a passage of scripture. Our scripture selections take us from the beginning, to the fall, to the prophecies of the Messiah, to the story of His coming and the story of His coming again. We also have a Christmas storybook that has inspirational Christmas stories. These are all short stories of Christmas memories and miracles. They make us laugh and some even make us cry. After the scripture reading and the short story, we read the next chapter of our Advent story.
The Advent stories are written by Arnold Ytreeide. There are three of them. We read one a year, every year. At year four, we start over. The three stories are Jotham’s Journey, Bartholomew’s Passage, and Tabitha’s Travels. Some feel the stories are too scary for younger children, but we haven’t had any problems. They are somewhat realistic about the cruel nature of the bandits and some of the Romans. The age range listed on the books starts at 9.
Today is the first Sunday of Advent and time to light the first purple candle. On Sundays, we like to do a little more and our celebration includes prayers and sometimes singing. Have a wonderful Advent season and a blessed Christmas.