We all know it, and most of us have said it: our society has commercialized Christmas and replaced Christ in a manger with Frosty, Rudolph, the Grinch and an ever growing list of products for sale. The very name “Christmas season” has changed into “holiday season” in many quarters.
So what better way to keep the truth of Christmas in the center of our minds than to intentionally focus on Advent, as untold millions of Christians have done over the centuries? I wrote about this with Bobby Gilles on The Gospel Coalition‘s blog, in an article called “Consider Skipping ‘Christmas Season This Year.” As the article explains, this actually makes our Christmas celebration more joyous, not less.
This is why we journey through Advent as a community each December, giving proper context to songs we sing on Sundays like “Joy To The World” and “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.”
And Sojourn member Laura Roberts has shared an idea for teaching and celebrating Advent with your small children, from her own childhood:
When I was a child, we had a super detailed, carved wood nativity set (got it from a “mission fair” at my church) that we put up after Thanksgiving. We set the stable up with the manger and a cow, hid baby Jesus, and then Mary and Joseph “traveled” around the living room until Christmas Eve, when they finally arrived in the stable and had baby Jesus. Then on Christmas Day the shepherds showed up (they had been “abiding in the fields, keeping watch over their flocks by night” on the other end of the bookcase). We left the set up until January 6, which is Three Kings’ Day, when we turned the stable into a house and had the wise men visit Toddler Jesus. It was super fun to move the characters every day, and it put the whole story at the front of our minds all Advent long.
How about you? How do you observe Advent as an individual? A family? A community group?