Did you know that the word Advent means “coming” or “arrival”? We use the word Advent to refer to the weeks leading up to Christmas. For many of us, it has become a tradition to celebrate Advent in a variety of ways, helping us focus on the biblical reason for the holiday season.
Celebrating Advent can be a great way to focus on the coming of Jesus with your family. Dr. Brad Baurain is the author of Today in The Word’s Advent Bible study. He says, “Christmas is the season in which we celebrate the arrival of the turning point in God’s plan of redemption— the coming of His Son, Jesus Christ.”
There are a variety of ways you can focus on that theme while preparing for Christmas.
Create a Prayer Wall
Each day write a prayer request or a few and put them on a specific wall in your house. Have everyone in your family join in. On these Post-it notes or index cards, you can write prayer requests for your family or people you know. Pray for things going on in the world, or in your community. Each day add one more and then pray for everything on the wall, individually or as a family before your evening meal.
Focus on a Christmas Story Character
The Christmas Story involved many different people (Mary and Joseph, of course, but also Herod, Elizabeth, and the shepherds). Each day, choose a person and read what the Bible has to say about them. Then, discuss together what it might have been like to be present at that time and how you would feel if you were in their shoes. Then on Christmas Eve or Day focus on Jesus!
Write Notes of Encouragement
Each day of Advent, have your family write a note of encouragement to a different person. This can be a short note or a long note. It can be mailed, hand-delivered, or sent as an email. Let this person know that they are loved and cared for this holiday season. You can certainly attach a gift if you wanted, but simple and genuine notes go a long way to brighten someone's day.
Read a Devotional
Find a daily devotional to read with your family each day during the Advent season. You can do this at home or post the devotional via a family group chat. Discuss together what you learned or found interesting from the devotional. There are many different devotionals at there to choose from. Today in the Word is free and offers a downloadable app, a daily email, and a printed magazine. The December daily devotional is focused on Advent, titled “Living in Hope.”
Study a Passage from the Bible
Read and meditate over a different passage of the Bible each day. Perhaps you could read a different Old Testament prophecy of the coming Jesus each day and see how it foreshadowed the birth of the Messiah. As well you could read a different Psalm or Proverb every day, or read the Christmas story from each gospels perspective.
Use an Advent Calendar
There are many different types of Advent calendars (containing everything from chocolates to tea to cheese, and others which have pockets to include your own messages or gifts). You can buy one and have you and your family go open one window each day or you can make your own. There are many that focus on the Birth of Jesus and are great for teaching children and adults the true meaning of Christmas in a fun and interactive way. Today in the Word’s free download Advent for Kids describes a way to make your own!
Do an Art Project
Each day or week you and your family can do a different art project focused on a different theme of Advent: hope, love, joy, peace This could be a small or big project or could range depending on the day. Have your children color or paint their interpretation of that theme. Cut out paper snowflakes or decorate plain brown paper bags to use as outdoor luminaries. An art project can help stimulate creativity and help us ponder a certain theme of the season.
Whatever you decide to do, take time to celebrate Advent. You can start a fun tradition or simply meditate on the coming of Christ and what that meant. Jesus is the most important part of the season and the most important thing in our lives.