DAY 24: “The Reason for the Season”

“This is a great opportunity to come together, say “no” to things that distract us, and “yes” to all God wants us to experience.”

It seems like every year the stores start putting up their holiday displays earlier and earlier. One season runs into another. We can get so caught up in the decorating and “keeping up with the Jones” that we lose sight of everything else. We forget the real reason for the season or even what season it is! There is one season between Thanksgiving and Christmas that is overlooked in the modern church today. It is the season of Advent. Advent means, “coming or arrival.” It’s a preparatory time of waiting and watching; hope and expectation. The Advent season is a four-week period before Christmas that celebrates the anticipation and coming of Jesus Christ — the Messiah — the Savior of the World!

Growing up, my sister Nancy and I were the organists for the two Sunday services at our little church. We had a big pipe organ that was located at the front of the church. I remember the day after Thanksgiving as I was practicing for the Sunday service, the “church ladies” came in to change the paraments on the altar and lectern. The colors changed from green to purple! They brought in flowers to go with the new color scheme. On Sunday, the stole around Pastor’s neck had also changed to purple! After the ladies were finished with everything, they brought in an Advent wreath made with fresh evergreen. The smell of pine filled the sanctuary. There were four candles, (three purple and one rose), set in a circle in the wreath. A large white candle was placed in the middle.  Each Sunday, they lit another candle — purple, purple, then rose. The white one would be lit on Christmas to celebrate Jesus’s birth. It was a tradition that we looked forward to every year. Candles are to remind us that Jesus came as the Light of the World, and we are to shine our light as well.

When our kids were small, we decided to do an Advent wreath at home. We tried making some of our own…. let’s just say crafts aren’t high on the talent list in our family… Another tradition was that we had an Advent calendar. They loved that calendar so much that they fought over it because each child wanted to be the one to open the little windows every day. We had a family devotion to go with each theme and tried doing an activity or something creative to help tell the story. We came up with songs to go with the theme as well. It wasn’t always perfect, but we made memories as a family.

There are so many things that can vie for our attention during the holiday season. This is a great opportunity to come together, say “no” to things that distract us, and “yes” to all God wants us to experience. However, you choose to celebrate, here are some ideas to try. Be creative, have fun, and remember the reason for the season!

Some ideas for celebrating Advent with your family:

  1. Make your own Advent wreath and take turns lighting the candles. The candles correspond to different themes each week.
  2. The first candle symbolizes “Hope.” (The prophets in the Old Testament waited in hope for the Messiah.)
  3. The second candle represents “Faith.” (It is called “Bethlehem’s Candle.” Micah foretold that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem.)
  4. The third candle symbolizes “Joy.” (It is called the “Shepherd’s Candle.” The shepherds had great joy when the angels announced the Messiahs birth! Also, the color rose signifies joy!)
  5. The fourth candle represents “Peace” and is called the “Angels Candle.” (The angels announced that Jesus came to bring peace.)
  6. The fifth candle represents “Light and purity” and is called the “Christ’s Candle.” (It is white, placed in the middle, and lit on Christmas.)
  7. Find scriptures that match the theme. Take turns reading them. Incorporate them into your devotions.
  8. Write out a prayer for each week. Whoever writes it gets to read it!
  9. Have the kids act out a little play about the theme. Do costumes and programs too!
  10. There are many Advent songs (they are different than Christmas ones by the way). Sing them to go with the theme. Tell the story behind each song. Fun Fact: “Joy to the World” and “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” are Advent songs!
  11. Write out some discussion questions. Conversation is a lost art. Relationships are everything!
  12. Make it a goal to have at least one meal together every day. Put phones away and focus on each other. Family is everything!

Says this with me: “Father, in the Name of Jesus, we thank you for this Advent season. You are the Light of the World, the Prince of Peace, the Hope of Glory! Prepare our hearts to receive you in a new way this year. Help us to say “no” to distractions and “yes” to You. You are the reason for the season, and we love you very much!”

Shalom,

Mama Swan