Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Advent: Advent

Today's topic is advent.  Obviously the thing that inspired this whole process   But, what about your family?  How do you celebrate the season of advent?

Advent – are you an advent family and what does that mean to you? The 4 Sundays and a tradition at church and light candles or the calendar and do you give little presents or do you do activities.  Does everyone what their own calendar or do you have one calendar as a family? What day does advent start and do you go to Christmas day or eve

I have a friend who really inspired me a couple years ago.  I had really never thought about the term advent until this conversation that proved to be a pivotal moment in my life.  After we talked, I began researching advent.  What it meant, what's involved, how people celebrate, what goes on the little pieces of paper, etc.  I quickly found a couple things:
  • a solid definition - ad·vent

    1.The arrival of a notable person, thing, or event.

    2.The first season of the church year, leading up to Christmas and including the four preceding Sundays.

    Synonyms- coming - arrival - appearance
  • The ways people celebrate are endless.  Some just participate at church in the 4 Sundays.  Some use it as a way to create special holiday memories as a family.  Others use it to make holiday crafts.  While some use it to explore the story of the birth of Christ and prepare their hearts for Christmas. 
With this information in mind, I've continued to find the perfect way to explore advent.  A couple years ago I made a couple advent calendars for gifts which was such a fun way to think about those I shared them with making family memories.  A group of us even gathered for an Etsy hosted night of Crafting it Forward and made advent calendars out of mini muffin tins.  The perfect addition to any holiday home!

And, in doing these diferent activities I found that for me exploring advent has been more about conditioning the heart.  What do I mean?
  • I think advent can be a perfect vehicle for families to create memories together. Baking cookies, looking at lights, putting up the tree, reading favorite stories.  All moments to create memories and these moments of people together and understanding and developing the importance of family.
  • Some use the calendar to make things to give away.  Things like wreaths, poems, baked goods.  I feel like these moments of making offer time for conversations.  You know the "why?" kind that kids always ask.  But, while their hands are busy, their minds usually follow suit and soon conversation develops.  It is in these moments that I think we have the first conversations in our lives about giving.  Why its important?  They discover that not everyone is as fortunate as we are.  I have a great friend in Arkadelphia who always challenged me in the way she raised her kids and the intentional moments she worked to create.  I loved seeing how her family celebrated advent season and how she really used those moments for intentional spiritual conversations with her boys.  I know I can look back and find moments, while not always specific, where we saw giving exemplified in my house.  I know the core of who I am was developed in those moments when my dad decided last minute he wanted to take fudge to a group of people or my mom stacked up mixed backed goodies to take to our neighbors.  Just last week my mom and I found ourselves comparing party menus and the things we had to get done throughout the week.  Giving is my FAVORITE thing about this time of year! 
  • And finally, I've learned to used this time of year for intentional reading.  Each year I try to get some kind of "guide" to walk through some advent reading.  This year I'm using The Journey: A Season of Reflections by Adam Hamilton and I must say it is my favorite by far!
Advent means coming.  And, while I hate that its the case.  By the time December rolls around, my heart needs some conditioning.  Some fresh reminders of how God has blessed me, the first of which was offering grace; unmerited, undeserved, unnecessary grace.  And, conditioning my heart has to happen every year (every day is more like it!).  Just like working with wood or clay I feel like my heart needs to be refined and rubbed with the oil of my Creator. 

Come Lord quickly come.

Happy Advent,

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