Advent and Family: Preparing our hearts and minds

Advent and Family: Preparing our hearts and minds Do you find the run-up to Christmas joyful and exhilarating, or is it a stressful time of year? If you’re like many of us, your usually full calendar is even fuller. You’re fitting in holiday baking, shopping, cookie exchanges, decorating, and school music programs. And that doesn’t even begin to touch upon the activities your church may be hosting. In truth, these are things you enjoy, or at least would enjoy if they weren’t making you feel overscheduled and a little stressed.

As Christians, the four weeks prior to Christmas is more than a shopping and eating binge lasting from Black Friday to Christmas Eve. These are the four weeks of Advent, a term that is based on the Latin word adventus, which means “coming.” Don’t let Advent become a Sunday morning worship activity that ends when you leave the sanctuary. Set aside time as a family to reconnect with Advent.

Reflect

Is it a coincidence that the themes of advent are exactly what we need not just now but every day? Not at all. Hope, Peace, Joy and Love. What amazing gifts from God these small but powerful words are! Carve out time each day to reflect as a family on what these words mean to each of you. Discuss what you can do to help one another achieve more of these concepts now as you prepare to celebrate Christ’s birth – and later as you make your way through the year.

Read

Often, we view the Bible as one book with two parts, but Advent gives us a remarkable gift. Through Advent we see the prophecies of the Old Testament fulfilled in the Christmas story of the New. Set aside each day to read scripture as a family. Start with Old Testament verses such as those in Micah, Isaiah, Malachi, and Psalms. See if you can find where the prophesies and prayers are fulfilled in the Gospel. The treasure hunt will be worth the time it takes to complete!

Re-evaluate and Then Rejoice

Advent is a reminder that God keeps His promise. What a wonderful thing to celebrate! Take stock of the things demanding your attention this holiday season. Cut out the things that don’t bring you or your family joy. Focus on the things that help you prepare your hearts and minds for celebrating Christ’s birth. It’s okay to say no to a holiday party you don’t enjoy or don’t have time for. It’s also okay to spend a little more time on the things that do help your family connect with each other and your faith.

Challenge: What Christmas traditions help your family prepare? Identify the things that help you live Advent’s themes of Hope, Peace, Joy and Love.

8 thoughts on “Advent and Family: Preparing our hearts and minds

  1. Advent is an opportunity to prepare our hearts and minds so that we do not miss the many ways in which Christ comes into our lives, on Christmas day and every day.

  2. Advent is popular way for individuals and families to anticipate Christmas. Every day opens another tiny door, and excitement builds.

  3. Decorations, music, baking and festivities can make us excited about the approach of Christmas, but they often don’t prepare us spiritually. Advent allows us an opportunity to slow down.

  4. Advent reminds us to prepare and wait for Christmas really to arrive, so in our church we don’t sing Christmas carols or decorate for Christmas until Christmas really gets here. I like to challenge people to join me in savoring the words and symbols of Advent as they speak to us in the readings, prayers, and hymns of the season.

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