Scripture Reading: Isaiah 2:2-5
Memory Verse: “Come, let us walk in the light of the Lord!” (Isaiah 2:5)
Let us be people of your peace.
As the darkness grows longer each day,
Let us walk in the light of your love and grace.
This coming Sunday, December 1, is the first Sunday of Advent. During this time of year, when there is so much focus on shopping, gifts, decorations, and sugar, it can be a challenge to keep our focus on the gift of God-with-us in Jesus Christ. When the lights of this world shine so brightly, it is not always easy to walk in the light of the Lord.
So I thought we could help each other out a bit in these days leading up to Advent. I will share a couple of family practices that I find most meaningful during Advent, and I invite you to share a favorite practice or two of yours in the comments section below.
Practice: Advent Calendar & Wreath
We just finished our Advent calendar for this year. It consists of egg cartons, paper circles, and–because we felt extra fancy–decorated clothes pins. (We made a much simpler version last year.)
Underneath each circle are stickers that are part of a nativity scene, one jelly bean for each child, and a slip of paper with a scripture or quote on it.
Each night of Advent (theoretically) we will gather as a family to light the appropriate number of candles on the wreath and lift off the next paper circle. The children will put their stickers on their nativity scenes, eat their jelly beans, and listen to the reading. On Christmas morning we light all four Advent candles plus the Christ candle and we open the final section of the calendar. Baby Jesus is, of course, the last sticker for the nativity scene. I know we won’t get to this every night, but the kids are usually good at reminding us to do it–since there is candy involved.
Bonus Practice: Saying “Yes” and Saying “No”
There are so many wonderful activities going on in the weeks leading up to Christmas, it is easy to get overwhelmed. I love the concerts, the cookie baking, the Christmas light displays, the tree decorating, the parties, the craft projects . . .
You know that phrase, “too much of a good thing”? A few years ago our family decided that each person (there are five of us) would get to choose one holiday activity that they most wanted to do. If possible, we would make those five activities happen. Any events beyond those five only happen if they fit easily and joyfully into our schedule.
In a similar vein, we decided it was silly to cook ourselves a big turkey dinner on Christmas when none of us especially likes turkey anyway. So instead we each choose one or two favorite foods to have for the day. Menus have included macaroni and cheese, cinnamon rolls, pumpkin pie, mashed potatoes, chicken and noodles . . .
Oh yeah. We also stay in our pajamas all day on Christmas. I even let my kids wear their pjs to church when Christmas fell on a Sunday.
Specific practices will vary from family to family, I know. Some people get together with larger groups on Christmas and people might not appreciate mac & cheese as a main course. Others attend worship on Christmas day every year and will probably want to wear something besides pajamas to church. Still, I encourage you to think about what makes the season meaningful and joyful for you and your family. Give yourself permission to say “no” as often as you need, so that each “yes” can be faithful and life-giving.