Again Jesus spoke to them saying,
“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
As the days grow shorter and the world draws us into a mad pursuit of purchasing the right gifts for every person we know while running from one event to another eating too much and worrying what everyone must think of us I long to settle my heart and focus on the light of Jesus and the different life he is calling me to. In our family a big part of that is accomplished by celebrating Advent.
The word “advent” comes from the Latin word “adventus” which means coming or arrival. When we celebrate advent we are preparing our hearts and minds to celebrate not only Christ’s first arrival but to prepare ourselves in anticipation of his second coming. Advent begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas. This year Advent starts on Sunday, December 1.
Advent Celebrations vary from family to family. Most commonly they include reading of selected passages from the Bible, the singing of Christmas carols, prayer and an Advent Wreath with 5 candles (3 purple, 1 rose and 1 white one or 4 white ones with 1 red one in the middle). Each candle represents an important part of Jesus’ story leading up to his birth. The scriptures focus on that theme for the week. The first purple candle is for prophecy. The second purple candle is for Bethlehem. The third candle is pink and represents the shepherds and God’s love. The fourth candle is purple and represents the angels. Then, finally, the white candle is lit on Christmas Eve and represents Christ.
Another tradition that we have adopted is the Jesse Tree. I first heard of it on Ann Voskamp’s blog and now she has a lovely book about it called The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas. We use this children’s book, The Jesse Tree to follow the Bible story from Creation through Jesus’ birth and hang corresponding ornaments on our Christmas tree as we read each story. The idea comes from Isaiah 11:1 “There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.” This passage is referring to Jesus coming from the line of Jesse. It is such a wonderful way to show God’s plan all along for the salvation of mankind.
We try to “do Advent” every evening after dinner but life is busy this time of year so it doesn’t always happen. Usually on the weekend we will take extra time and catch up on our readings. Some years are better than others but each year we strive to do our best and it is now a firm part of our family tradition and believe God blesses our efforts to focus more on him and less on the materialism and craziness of the season.
May God bless you and draw you into His light this holiday season.