Put the ADVENTure in your Advent.
Would you be surprised if I wished you “Happy New Year?” It is the beginning of the year for Christians!
Long ago, the church divided the year into seasons that celebrate the life of Jesus, and began with Advent, a time of looking forward to the coming of the baby who would be the Messiah.
Before everyone could read, they learned the lessons of the Bible through pictures, (think stained glass windows), colors, plays, festivals, and traditions. Many of those same ways of learning about Jesus are still with us today. We look at the hangings in the church, which on the fourth Sunday before Christmas are changed to purple or blue. Everyone knew that purple is the color of royalty, and also the color of penitence. So, they knew that Advent was a time of waiting and preparing for the coming of the King; a time of getting ready by “cleaning house” mentally and being ready for the guest to come. Today, some churches have changed the color to blue which still denotes royalty, but focuses on hope rather than repentance.
Hope for the coming of the light.
Families and churches have many traditions that are practiced during Advent to teach the lesson of “getting ready.” Advent wreaths are often added to the front of the sanctuary, and one candle is lit each week and scriptures are read focusing on the themes of hope, love, joy, and peace. Many homes have wreaths on their tables, and make the lighting of the candle a part of their nightly prayers too. Children love to be included in the candle lighting and the readings and learn the lessons in a joyful way.
Creches, or nativity scenes, have been a well-loved part of Advent celebrations for centuries. Whether they are life-sized statues displayed in the front of the sanctuary or small paper scenes found in your den, they help everyone think about the special event that is coming. Many churches and families make it a ritual to add one character to the shed each day, or during the lighting of the Advent wreath, saving Mary and Joseph of the last Sunday and the baby until Christmas Eve.
Advent calendars, which have little doors that open with surprises behind them, can also be a part of the season’s preparations.
Waiting is part of the thrill and makes the anticipation more dear. You can hear a little child thinking “It is getting closer. It is coming soon. Am I ready?”
Christmas decorations have been in stores since the middle of October, and Christmas carols begin filling the airways in November. Traditionally, Christmas doesn’t begin until December 25, and lasts for 12 days. On that twelfth day, the Wise Men bring their gifts to the baby and the season of Epiphany begins. But it seems impossible these days not to begin celebrating Christmas during Advent. Everyone wants to go to the party before it starts. How can you be sure to teach and celebrate the lessons of Advent so that you are prepared for the special birth that is promised?
How can you make Advent an ADVENTure this year?
Bonnie Clemons (Carey’s Mama)
Resources for your Advent Season:
Purchase: Love Came Down- Gifts & Home Decor