The Advent of Christmas
I just read that there are 12 Sundays until Christmas and my first response was, “Ugh.” It’s only the thought of celebrating Advent that keeps my attitude toward the Christmas holidays from being pessimistic. It’s not that I don’t like to give gifts—I do. And receiving them isn’t bad either. But the pressure to spend more money and time on the non-Jesus parts of Christmas can lead me to resent the whole season.
Just as starting each week with a worship service helps me to feel grounded the rest of the week, daily Advent readings can help me feel grounded in faith each day during the most hectic, materialistic time of the year.
The Advent Reading Tradition
My husband and I discovered the tradition of Advent when our children were young and we had already been churched for many years. It is a centuries old tradition, but we had never been attuned to it. Once we understood it, during Advent would light the candles, take turns reading scripture, sing a Christmas song or hymn, pray with each person lifting up the needs of a non-family member. Other activities through the years included collecting money for a special cause or planning gifts for people outside our family who we would not be expected to give to. When they were elementary age, my children would sometimes act out scenes from the daily reading. Time focused on Advent was a special, memorable time for us, and it helped keep the focus on God and giving, rather than on a tree with lots of presents for ourselves.
The Whole Story
Through the years, we found that Advent was a great time to review God’s work throughout the scripture, and not just the Christmas story, because Jesus as a baby is, of course, only part of the story. We started at the beginning—Creation—and reviewed key events leading to Christ’s birth and purpose on Earth, ending with how we look forward to the second Advent and our future home with Him.
I’ve encountered Christians who are skeptical of any tradition with a name—nondenominationalism being skeptical of “dead traditions.” And while I understand that concern, I also invite anyone who is seeking to keep Christmas grounded in the spiritual rather than the material or commercial to consider using the four weeks before Christmas as a time to daily read scripture focused on Christ—our need for Him, the prophesies of His birth, the account of His birth and time on Earth, and our anticipation seeing Him again.
Eight Sundays remain until the beginning of Advent 2016. There is still plenty of time for you to research and prepare the best approach to Advent for you and your family.