This is the season of Waiting!!! This is the season where we prepare our hearts for the Lord’s coming and wait for His arrival (when we can celebrate His coming!). We are to prepare our hearts by laying them out before the Lord and seeking His will in all of our plans, all our desires, and hopes and dreams for now and the future. We are to take an honest look at our hearts and ask God to search them and see if there is any offensive way in them…and to ask God to lead us in the way everlasting (Psalm 139:24). It is a cleansing process. We get rid of the bad (things that lead us away from the Lord and doing what is right) and ask God to set our hearts right before Him (total surrendering process).
Here are a few ways that I am learning I can celebrate the Advent Season:
1) A Jesse Tree (a symbol of Christ’s lineage in the Bible…you can start with Adam and Eve…or put Noah on there, etc…whichever ones are meaningful to you right now I think…because there are a LOT of them!).
2) An Advent Wreath (a wreath with 3 purple candles, 1 pink one, and One white one (Christ candle). You can read more about the symbolism for each candle and see what verses to read on this site (one of many!): http://www.focusonthefamily.com/parenting/holidays/making-meaningful-christmas-memories/celebrate-advent.aspx
3) A Christmas Tree (this can be whatever your family would like, but usually people put memories they have of different things on their trees…you can make it focused on Christ by putting memories you have with the Lord on your tree, such as things He’s done in your life…things He’s given you deliverance from, blessings and gifts He’s given you, etc.).
4) Stockings (you can put gifts you want to give Jesus this next year in your stockings–tangible gifts you want to give to other people (like for the poor, widows, orphans, etc)…or you can present gifts of the heart to Jesus (for example, we put crosses up on our wall beside our stockings for each person and wrote on them the main areas in our hearts that we are struggling with that we would like to offer up to the Lord to take away from us and set us right).
5) Nativity Scene (you can tell your kids the story of Christ’s coming with little or big Nativity scenes).
6) Advent calendars (these are fun to add to other traditions as well).
There are so many things you can do and make specific to YOUR family. You can include your family traditions or make your own (for young families or new believers) and tweak them to focus them on Christ.
Other ideas for Christmas are:
1) Focus on GIVING gifts, not receiving them.
2) Focus on THANKS for gifts you have received.
3) Focus on gifts of the HEART (you can encourage your children to give each other gifts that are not costly, but are from the heart, and focus on their love for each other).
These can be played out in so many ways. My family, growing up, always sang songs in hospitals or nursing homes. This was one of my favorite traditions! It was so wonderful to bring cheer to those who are lonely during the Christmas season. You can serve food to those in need at a food pantry or kitchen, you can give gifts to those in need (in many different ways), you can make a commitment to give money to organizations or families that minister to those in need–regularly or a one-time gift, or you can pray as a family for those suffering or in need. The list is ENDLESS!
As you and your family wait upon the Lord’s coming (for Christmas and His Eventual Return), perhaps you can pray that the Lord show you how to prepare yourself and your family for His coming during Advent Season and how to SERVE HIM this Christmas.