Advent is a wonderful exercise in patience. Counting down, waiting, expecting good things.
This year, as I looked through the plethora of creative Advent calendar options on Pinterest, I felt that God was calling me to be still. That to really dive into the Advent adventure this year, our family could practice stillness and quiet.
Normally, this is not a quiet time for our family. We cram as much as we can into each Advent weekend, then have a whole host of extended family Christmases during the holidays. We’ve tried to super-simplify our gift-giving, but there are still things to buy and make and bake and wrap. We make lists and check them twice. We have traditions that cannot be skipped. It’s a flurry of activity, right from Advent Sunday #1 until New Year’s Day. All of this makes for a very full and fun season, but one that is lacking stillness.
This year, instead of opening a playmobil or chocolate or “do something Christmas-y every day” Advent calendar, we’re reading a Christmas poem or story each night at the supper table. It’s been a way of being still, enjoying words read aloud, and talking about the meaning together.
What advent traditions can you cultivate that encourage stillness, quiet, and wonder?
1. Read the passage from James 5:7-10 together. Talk about waiting – for Christmas, for Christ’s coming, and what that means for us today.
2. Turn on the Christmas tree lights, snuggle up in blankets, and take turns playing your favorite Christmas songs for each other. What is it that you like about the words or the music?
3. Read Mary’s magnificat in Luke 1:46-55 – a powerful example of Mary showing wonder and gratitude at what God has done for her.
How can we magnify the Lord? Find a magnifying glass and talk about what it would mean to magnify God this Christmas.
What great things has the Mighty One done in your family this past year? Make a Christmas tree ornament that has symbols or words to describe the goodness you’ve experienced this year.
How can you join God’s work in showing mercy and filling the hungry with good things? How is God calling you to show love to others in your community? Take time to pray for hope and light to shine in your neighbourhood.
4. Create a cedar bough labyrinth to walk on outside in the dark evening. Make a circular path that leads into the center, where there is a large candle glowing. Help the children light their own candle from that large candle’s flame and place it on the side of the path as they walk out of the labyrinth. Sing songs about light. This could be done on December 21st as part of a “welcoming the light” celebration.