You’ve probably heard the word “advent” but do you know what it means? The word comes from the Latin “adventus” and literally means “coming.” Christians refer to the first and second advent’s or “first and second comings” often in theological discussions. Historically within the context of Christmas, advent has referred to the four weeks leading up to Jesus birth on December 25. Does your family take time to make much of the advent season?
I would encourage you to celebrate the advent season as a family. There are many great works that allow you to read a devotional together as a family each day beginning December 1st and ending on the 25th of December (Christmas morning). This year my family will be reading a book by John Piper called “The Dawning of Indestructible Joy.” It has 25 readings and we will begin each day as a family with a reading and some prayer time together for 25 days! The whole idea of celebrating advent for a season is to prepare your hearts for the coming of Christ on Christmas morning. Rather than treating most of December as common, celebrating advent allows your heart to tune in to God’s greatest gift ever given for the entire month. On the last 7 days leading up to Christmas, my family lights candles to remind us of the coming of the light of God into the world. John 1:9 says that Jesus was, “The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.”
Everyone loves Christmas. I am betting that your family has traditions at Christmas just like mine. Some families go walk through the streets at Candy Cane Lane in St. Louis to see the lights. Some families eat certain foods, or go to certain places as a family tradition. Some watch the same Christmas movies each year, or bake cookies on certain dates. I’m sure that you have some great traditions already established in your homes. Keep doing them! All of these traditions lead each of us into anticipation of Christmas morning, when we open the stockings and presents. I love the Christmas traditions in my family. I love watching Elf for the one thousandth time with my kids and laughing at the same corny jokes. Traditions are great, but how many Christmas traditions does your family have that tune your heart toward the real meaning of Christmas?
A New Tradition?
Maybe it’s time to read through a gospel with your family this year beginning December 1st. Matthew has 28 chapters. Luke has 24. What say you? Maybe you need to do a quick search on the internet to look over the myriad of advent devotionals that are out there. Maybe you just need to spend time each morning with your family in prayer asking God to prepare your heart to celebrate the first advent of Jesus in a way that would honor him. Each family leaves a legacy behind of tradition, some good and some bad. What will be your advent legacy for your family? Will you choose to have one or will the hustle and bustle of the season keep you from celebrating what Christmas is really all about?
“And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”
–Scripture taken from the ESV translation of the Bible.