With Christmas decorations and advertisements arriving earlier and earlier each year [this year I saw them going up before Halloween decorations even came down, yikes!] it seems like we can’t escape the “commercilization” of the Christimas “hol-y-days.” Escape is what I wish I could do when this season comes upon us. I can’t stand the consumerism and materialism.
Before you write me off as a grinch let me tell you that I do like certain aspects of the Christmas season. I love time spent with friends and family celebrating our faith in Christ and love for one another. I like Christmas cards and family letters that bring news about the lives of distant friends and family we rarely see. I like Christmas trees and lights. I even like Christmas music. But…
More than anything, I like the season of Advent that prepares us for celebrating the birth of Christ.
Advent is the beginning of the liturgical calendar year and it’s one of my favorite seasons. It’s a season of repentance as we acknowledge we are a people in need of a Savior and prepare for the celebration of the advent/coming of our Messiah. It’s a season of joy and expectation as celebrate the fulfillment of God’s promise to send the Messiah and it’s a season of anticipation and hope as we cling to the promise that He will one day come again.
The season of Advent, as celebrated in Church and at home, is what makes this time of the year so meaninglful to me. That it is why during the four weeks before Christimas we practice one of my favorite family traditions: lighting the candles in the Advent Wreath at home every night. This tradition was something my parents practiced while I was growing up. If you’re not familiar with the Advent Wreath here’s the basics: The Advent Wreath is traditionally a circular evergreen wreath with five candles, four around the wreath and one in the center. Each candle has a name and tells part of the Christmas story. [That’s Ella and Claire with our Advent wreath in the picture above.]
When I was growing up we’d light the candles each night at dinner and my dad would ask us the name of each candle and quiz us about the Bible story or history behind the candle. “What’s the first candle? Who was the Prophet? What did Isaiah prophesy?” Such a simple thing and yet it meant so much. Scott and I love sharing this tradition with the girls but we even practiced it before they were born; it kept us focused on Christ when the world is so focused on consumerism.
I like this tradition so much that I’ve been known to hand out wreaths and candles to my friends. A few years ago I created a document from various sources that talks about this tradition and how we practice it in our home. If you’re interested here’s the link: Advent Wreath Document.
So, that’s my favorite tradition.
Thanksgiving is over and the hectic ways of the world’s holiday celebration are in full force. Don’t let it suck you in. Take time during this season to examine your heart before celebrating the “coming” of Christ our King into this world. Focus on what the incarnation of God in the flesh means in your life and prepare the way of the Lord in your heart during Advent.