Advent 2016

This year, I had a real heart to practice Advent with the kids. In year's past I've done my own version of celebrating Advent (last year, memorably, by reading the entire Old testament), but I've never attempted anything with our kids. A combination of poor planning, doubt that young kids would get anything out of it, and being overwhelmed at the task led be to idly do nothing. After only a couple days of celebrating Advent as a family this year, I'm so thankful that we are! It's so worth it.

source, lilaliv.ch via Pinterest

After a good long talk with Brit, one of the moms I learn the absolute most from, I realized that Advent doesn't have to be intimidating because it doesn't have to look any certain way! The whole goal is to point our kid's hearts towards the ultimate celebration of joy on the 25th when we rejoice that Jesus has come to save and mend. The weeks leading up to that celebration should be anticipatory, exciting, and memorable, but that can look a thousand different ways. What a relief!

Some families do formal lessons each night or morning, some have activities that they do each day, the bottom line is that you're looking forward, as a family, to the greatest celebration of all.

Here's what we're doing this year. Totally just to give one example, not at all to say that it's what your family should do, or what's the best way :)

source: Pinterest

First of all, we light an Advent candle each week. I love this tradition and was looking everywhere for a classic four candle holder, to no avail. I was going to combine a few individual candlesticks, but then I found a great one at Value Village while in Ottawa last weekend. Such a perfect find! Lighting the candle also fits perfectly with the scripture we're reading this month.

For the month leading up to Christmas, we are meditating on one portion of scripture, in hopes of memorizing it by Christmas day. We are doing a few verses each week, and adding more each week. This year I chose John 1:1-18 and we read it aloud to the kids at breakfast, and each evening before bed. They've already started saying the verse alongside me, just from having heard it a few times. Kids are amazing! So for example, this first week of Advent, we are reading John 1:1-5. Next week we'll add verses 6-9, and so on.

In addition to scripture, each night we're singing the classic carol Come Thou Long Expected Jesus by Charles Wesley (we're singing the version by Red Mountain Music which you can find on Youtube). Page CXVI also has a great version, fyi (though it's less sing-along-able)! I'd love the kids to memorize this song and others, but since our church is French and only sings French songs, it's on us to teach them these lyrics, which I'm happy to do!

I also picked up several children's books that all focus on Christmas in one way or another. None of them are designed to be the sole way our kid's hear the message of the Incarnation, so some are pretty basic and others more thematic. I lucked out in finding all of these titles at various thrift stores, so each were no more than $1. The Christmas Miracle by Jonathan Toomey is by far my favourite and makes me cry every time Brad reads it!

We've talked about certain people who the kids would especially love to invite to church and give cookies to, and Lily's already done so to her crossing guard. Essentially, my hope for Advent is that as we focus more than usual on Jesus, we'll grow in our love for him and the ways that we love others.

After only a few days of doing these rituals, our kids are more comfortable reciting scripture and we are doing more as a family to build our faith than in the many preceding months combined. Whatever you do this Advent, know that grace abounds! Keep it simple, open your Bibles, and lift your voices with your families. We say Christmas isn't about the presents or things, but if we enter into the 25th unprepared, it's hard for it not to be. I love the idea of spending a whole month really dedicating ourselves to these rituals and training our own hearts to remember the real reason for Christmas. Happy Advent friends!


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