The season of Advent is upon us.
The word Advent means ‘arrival’, and it refers to the arrival of Jesus Christ into the world.
In 2016 the four Advent Sundays are November 27, December 4, December 11, and December 18.
December can be such a crazy month for most of us that sometimes it’s hard to keep ‘the reason for the season’ in our minds. This is why it can be really helpful to read an Advent devotional, use an Advent wreath, make a Jesse Tree, or read selected passages and stories with your children every day, just to keep the focus on Jesus.
The history of the Advent wreath (from Wikipedia)
Johann Hinrich Wichern (1808–1881), a Protestant pastor in Germany, was the inventor of the modern Advent wreath in the 19th century.
During Advent, children at the mission school he founded, would ask daily if Christmas had arrived. In 1839, he built a large wooden ring (made out of an old cartwheel) with 20 small red and 4 large white candles. A small candle was lit successively every weekday and Saturday during Advent. On Sundays, a large white candle was lit.
The custom gained ground among Protestant churches in Germany and evolved into the smaller wreath with the four or five candles known today.
Certain candles have been given various names and designations:
Candle 1. Hope and/or Patriarchs (purple)
Candle 2. Peace and/or Prophets (purple)
Candle 3. Joy and/or John the Baptist (rose)
Candle 4. Love or The Virgin Mary (purple)
Candle 5. Christ The Light of the World (white) – lit on Christmas eve.
Useful Advent resources from around the web:
- Women Living Well has a free Advent devotional for you to download.
- John Piper’s Good News of Great Joy: Daily Readings for Advent contains 25 short devotional readings beginning on December 1 and going through to Christmas Day. This book of Advent meditations aims to put Jesus at the center of your holiday season and is free to download.
- Advent Devotional Book 2016 This is a free Kindle booklet of devotionals written by the congregation and staff of the United Methodist Church of Kent for the Advent season of 2016. There is a reading for each day of Advent, accompanied by an appropriate Bible passage, Thought for the Day, and prayer.
- Bible Gateway has some free Advent devotionals you can sign up for and they will arrive in your inbox daily, starting on 1 December.
- The Billy Graham Centre for Evangelism at Wheaton College has a lovely 25-day free Advent devotional which you can download in exchange for your email address.
- Betsy has a beautiful series, Advent Readings for the Very Young, and if you click on each link there is a beautiful blog post written for your children for every day of Advent. You can also print out the pdf.
- Make Today Happy website has a free random acts of Kindness Advent Calendar for you to download . . . time to spread a little festive kindness.
- WhyChristmas.com is a great site for more information about Christmas traditions and customs, Advent, Christmas around the world, the Christmas Story and lots more. In fact, it’s the ‘go-to’ site if you want to know anything about Christmas.
- The Happy Home Fairy has some lovely free resources for you to make with your children on her blog post, a Christ-Centered Christmas, including a Bible Verse Advent Countdown for Kids free printable.
- Godspace has a blog post, Advent Resources, with some great ideas, many of them free, including Advent in a Jar and an Advent Colouring Book.
- Addie Zierman has some interesting recommendations on her blog post 8 Books for the Advent Season.
- Tanya Marlow has some good suggestions on her blog post Advent Resources 2016 . . . well worth a look!
- Emily Freeman also has some suggestions on her blog post 5 Books for Advent Reading.
- Ann Voskamp has some lovely blog posts about Advent that make wonderful reading.
- Ann Voskamp has also written the New York Times bestsellers, The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas and Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas where she expands her presentation of the timeless Advent tradition of the Jesse Tree so families can celebrate together.
- Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room: Daily Family Devotions for Advent by
- A Little R&R blog has suggestions if you’re looking for an Advent Bible study: 9 Advent Studies To Do This Christmas
- Beauty for Ashes Pinterest page has 23 Christmas boards! Of special interest for Advent are: Jesse Tree Ideas, The Advent Season, Advent Calendar Ideas, and Christmas Non-fiction.