Here comes Advent!

Updated for 2015.

Advent is coming! It starts this Sunday!

Are you ready? Have you planned activities to engage your family in the season of waiting for Christmas?

Why Advent? The word “Advent” comes from Latin; it means “coming” or “arrival.” Advent signals that Christmas is coming; the day when we celebrate that God arrived on earth as baby Jesus. Advent gives us time to prepare to celebrate Christ’s coming. We get to focus our hearts and minds and actions, on the amazing story of God with us!

What can we do during Advent? Try some of these activities:

Bring out the Advent wreath. Does yours need a spruce up?

Creating an Advent wreathThis Sunday, at 10:45 in the Social Hall (at FUMC downtown), there will be supplies and equipment for wreath-making.

Bring your wreath from last year. Or, if you don’t have one, there will be materials to make a new one! (A donation to cover costs will be appreciated.) There will also be an opportunity to make a special Christmas ornament or two!

Light those Advent candles. Starting on Sunday and why not everyday, light the appropriate number of candles during your family dinner. Can’t all be there for dinner? How about over breakfast or over an after-school or bedtime snack? Or just use it as an excuse to gather together for shared family time. (Even if it’s only for 5 minutes!)

Use your Advent wreath as a way to spark faith conversation.
Print a copy of an Advent Wreath discussion guide.

Picture Advent
Go on a photo hunt!
Join in on the fun of Picture Advent. On the first day of Advent photograph something that says “Hope.” On Monday look for “Promise,” and on Tuesday: “Beginning.” See the list of various photo ops.

Use an Advent Calendar. There are all sorts of these to be found, though they typically count the days in December (as opposed to the weeks of Advent). Use your Nativity set as an Advent Calendar – set up a path of numbered “stepping stones” (cut from paper?) Have Mary and Joseph slowly make their way to the stable scene.

An Advent paper chainOR, have your kids assemble a paper chain with 24 links. Print out this list of Bible verses and glue one verse to each link. Every day in December snip a link and read the Bible together.

OR, Use my favorite Bible storybook – The Jesus Storybook Bible. Read one story each day. (They all tie to Jesus.) Download a PDF of this reading plan. A sample of which is shown below. (There are multiple other, not-so-fancy versions out on the internet. Do a search.)

A page from the Advent Calendar based on The Jesus Storybook Bible

grass grows in a cupPlant Straw for the Manger.Fill a cup with potting soil. Place it on a sunward windowsill. Have a container of seeds close by – use grass seed or “cat grass” or wheat berries. Every time someone does something nice for someone, they get to plant a seed. Watch it grow (water regularly) and on December 24th mow it down to fill the manger in your crèche scene.

Use unexpected moments to focus on Advent themes. Find yourself stuck in traffic or in the slow lane at the store? Transform your marking-time-moment into an example of how the Israelites waited for the arrival of the Savior – for hundreds of years! What are other daily instances that remind you of peace, light, grace, joy, hope, love…?

You've been RACK'ed - Random Acts of Christmas Kindness
Check this list
of other Advent ideas…
including Random Acts of Christmas Kindness! A fun way to put the focus on being kind to others.

What Advent activities are being arranged in your household?


Photo credits:
Grass in a cup by Shardayyy under a Creative Commons license.
The page from The Jesus Storybook Bible Advent calendar created under fair usage. (I’m linking to their product at no benefit to myself. And you’ll for sure want one. Did I mention that it’s my favorite?)
Other photos from my archives.

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