The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only son”
John 1:14, NIV
December has arrived and today is the first Sunday of the month, which means it is Advent time. The word “Advent” is derived from the Latin word adventus, meaning “coming”. We soon will be celebrating the fact that Jesus came, born unto the virgin Mary, placed in a manger. He came – Emmanuel – Christmas ! He will one day come again! It is this season around the world that has Christians thinking about Jesus and who He is in our lives.
While Advent is certainly a time of celebration and anticipation of Christ’s birth, it is more than that. It is about taking the time to prepare our hearts for the true meaning of Christmas.
When my kiddos were little we tried to impart the true meaning of Christmas by talking about who Jesus is. My favorite was the kid friendly nativity set they would play with and we would act out the Christmas story, always one of the kids fighting over who could hold the baby Jesus. Those little figurines were well loved and played with until the year the dog ate Joseph and Mary, then we had to retire the set. We created Advent wreaths and lit the purple and pink candles, took turns praying for each other, our friends and neighbors, and people around the world. Trying to bring meaning to the words hope, peace, joy, and love. We also had the chocolate calendars which probably were their favorite because who doesn’t like a piece of chocolate to go with their breakfast.
Now my kids are teenagers and young adults but I still want to have those important conversations with them. Who is Jesus to you? There are many great Advent devotions online or books to share that can help us with this question. This year, I have a beautiful Advent devotion I will be reading and sharing with my family and I am going to keep it simple and create an Advent wreath. I must say I was tempted by my Pinterest search to go all out crazy but then I find myself back in the trap of preparing my home, the food, the gifts and gatherings more than preparing my heart.
A little history about this wreath… Ancient northern Europeans would light candles on a circle of greens in the dead of dark winter to symbolize ongoing life. The lit candles were a reminder of spring and the coming of lighter days ahead. By the 16th century Christians had adopted this wreath and used it as a symbol much as we do today. There are four candles on the advent wreath, three purple and one pink. The purple candles, are lit on weeks one, two and four – they symbolize hope, peace and love. The pink candle, lit on week three, symbolizes joy. Each week as Christians prepare for the coming of Christmas they ponder on and pray for hope, peace, joy and love! We always put a large white candle in the center to light on Christmas Eve as we put the baby Jesus in the manager of the nativity set. Advent – it is the fulfilled promise that Christ came and the unfulfilled promise that He will return again.
So many ways to ponder and prepare. My encouragement to you would be to keep it simple. Focus on Jesus this Advent season and find ways your family can show the love of Jesus by bringing hope, peace, joy and love into your little corner of the world. By doing so we appreciate the miracle of Christmas and the depth of God’s love for each of us.