The word ‘advent’ means “coming”. In this season of the year, we focus on the meaning of the coming of the Son of God into the world. And the spirit of our celebration should be the spirit in which he came. And the spirit of that coming is summed up in Luke 19:10: “The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” – John Piper, The Dawning of Indestructible Joy
Chris and I both grew up hearing about the Advent season in some way, shape, or form. Advent calendars with punch-out windows and chocolate treats were sometimes brought out, other times it was just a discussion. Every year for me, it meant seeing the Advent candles lit at church Sunday mornings leading up to Christmas.
While Advent was always a part of the Christmas season, I know that I never appreciated it when I was a kid. I didn’t fully understand what it stood for other than that it meant Christmas, with all of its presents and celebration, was getting closer. And yes, I knew that Christmas meant the birth of Jesus and this was important, but a deep, soul-seated meaning and understanding of what that implied for my life? Nope – I definitely didn’t grasp that.
Looking back on my own childhood memories of Advent makes me wonder how I can communicate its meaning to my own children. I’ve done a daily reading for Advent with the boys each year – some years have been better than others. Last year, I started my own daily devotional for Advent – The Dawning of Indestructible Joy: Daily Readings for Advent by John Piper.
I enjoyed these readings last year – so much so that I’m planning to read through it again this year. I think that it was doing these for myself in addition to having daily readings with the boys that has most helped me understand the meaning behind and importance of Advent. And by doing that, it’s helped me in the conversations that I have with the boys about this time of year.
Celebrating Advent with children should, I believe, be a balance of fun and discussion, over all of which a sense of excitement and anticipation should linger. How to achieve that balance, though? Well, shortly after moving here, we bought this Advent calendar.
I like it because we can personalize what we do each year – some days there’s a chocolate treat, some days there’s not, but every day we have a reading and prayer. Fun and discussion.
This year, I found a blogger who’d written Advent Readings for the Very Young. I printed them, cut out each day’s reading, and put the readings in the calendar pockets. I also printed this list of Advent readings from The Jesus Storybook Bible.
Doing these readings at a child’s level is one way that we make Christ’s coming, His birth, His death, and His love for us a true focal point of every day in December. The boys love listening to the readings and we love that we’re able to do this as a family.
They no longer make the Advent calendar that we own, but there are several on Amazon that are similar. These are a few of my favorites, in case you’re looking to start a similar Advent tradition with your loved ones.
What memories do you have of Advent from your childhood? What things do you do to celebrate Advent now?