Our family continues to celebrate the season of Advent. It is a time to refocus and prepare. Many say it’s about preparing for Christmas, but really, Advent is so much more than that. It’s a time to prepare for the coming of the Messiah. Yes, that happened at “Christmas” through the birth of Jesus. But there is the hope that we have of the return of the Messiah – a triumphant return to Earth. Advent is about making sure we are prepared for THAT coming of the Messiah.
So what does our family do to prepare? Well, since we have a lot of smaller children, many of our Advent adventures do seem to focus more on the celebration of Christmas. We have an Advent calendar that we open each night at dinner. I actually made it this year using a mini muffin tin and these printable numbers. I used some of Erica’s activity ideas, but came up with many on my own. Thus far we have sung “We Wish you a Merry Christmas” around the dinner table, shared candy canes with friends, had our family photo take with Santa at the Bass Pro Shop, signed Christmas cards, worked as a family to prepare a meal together and watched a Christmas movie together. I know that none of these seem particularly Christ-centered, but they are family centered. The goal of our Advent calendar is to be spending more time as a family doing something TOGETHER. Upcoming activities have us focusing on others as well. For us, since we don’t live near our family, making sure that our little family of 7 is solid and bonded together well is very important.
On Sunday’s we light our Advent Wreath and have a short devotion. It is during this time when we talk about and share more Christ centered thoughts, questions and hope. Often, these dinner time discussions carry over into our week. While I’d love to have great theological Christ centered discussion every day in our home, the reality is that we often get bogged down in the day-to-day running of life. Not that Jesus get pushed aside (although He sometimes does), but more that routine and logistical conversation takes priority over deep theological conversation. Maybe when the kids are older…
To me, Advent really is an adventure – a journey of preparation for meeting Jesus. In thinking of advent that way, I suppose all of life could be considered the “season of Advent.” Shouldn’t we always be preparing for when we will meet the Messiah? Should is such a loaded word though… it carries a lot of pressure with it. Guilt too. Like with our Advent Calendar. Maybe it “should” have scripture everyday and be totally Jesus-centric. Maybe it “should” be more about giving to others. It probably “should” be a lot more than what it is. But our family’s adventure through Advent is what it will be this year – OUR adventure.
This time of year, many get caught up in what we “should” do for Christmas. We want so much to be “just right.” What if we all just slowed down for a minute, spent a quiet night at home cuddling with our family (however you define that), bought less gifts (thereby reducing the stress of shopping), and looked more at our own lives and hearts, preparing them for the coming Jesus? Not that we need to be more selfish in nature, but instead, by slowing down and listening to God’s priorities for our lives, our nature became more focused and balanced.
Maybe, just maybe, we’d find the peace, love and joy that this season of Advent has to offer.