Choose a Practice for a Better Advent This Year
On Sunday, December 3, we officially begin the season of Advent, a time of hope for the Messiah and lament for our sins. Unfortunately, this is a season that often gets overlooked because of the commercialization of Christmas. But it is important to understanding that it is not yet the Christmas season—now is a time of preparation so that, once we enter Christmas, we have reached a place of great longing and understanding of the need for our Savior.
If you have not observed Advent in a way that has been spiritually fulfilling before, or you aren’t sure what to do this year, don’t worry! Remember that if you make even the smallest effort, God can do great work with what you give him. This year, try just one of these practices to observe Advent intentionally and prepare yourself spiritually for Christmas.
1. Advent Wreath
An Advent wreath can help you get into the practice of praying every night for Advent, either alone or with your family or friends. The wreath symbolizes eternal life and the resurrection, while the candles represent the Light of Christ in the world. Candles are progressively lit each week following the order: purple, purple, rose, purple. Try the practice of lighting the candles each night and offering a prayer. By the end of Advent, all four candles will be lit, and you will better see how the Light truly comes into the world on Christmas.
2. Advent Calendar
Similar to an Advent wreath, and Advent calendar encourages daily reflection on the season and fosters a habit of prayer. An Advent calendar counts down the days until Christmas and gives you a tangible way of representing your longing for the Messiah. There are many different kinds of Advent calendars available, including ones with readings and reflections for each day. Loyola Press offers some online Advent calendars if you are unable to get a physical calendar. You can also create one yourself by assembling readings, reflections, and practices that are meaningful to you.
Listening to music can be a great way to enter prayerfully into the spirit of Advent. But this does not mean turning on your favorite radio station and listening to Christmas music. Celebrating the joy of Christmas with music before properly preparing for it can lessen its impact. Luckily, there is plenty of Advent music out there to help you get into the true mood of the season. We’ve prepared this Spotify playlist filled with great Advent music.
4. Jesse Tree
Making a Jesse tree is a fun way to observe Advent with your children. Just like a Christmas tree, a Jesse tree allows you to make your home beautiful with decorations. But it also provides an opportunity to learn about the genealogy of Jesus as described in Scripture, going back to Jesse, the father of King David. You and your children can have a wonderful Scriptural preparation for Christmas by making a Jesse tree.