Advent is a word that we don’t really use any more – except for Christmas time. But do we even know what it means?
Advent means the arrival of …(and in our Christmas context – it means the arrival of Jesus Christ the Saviour)
So the Season of Advent is traditionally started the 4th Sunday before Christmas is a time where we prepare and wait the arrival of Jesus – or wait the celebration of the arrival of Jesus. It’s about focusing on who Jesus is and what he has done – and letting that change our lives.
When I wait for something that I am very excited about I prepare myself. Magazines and the TV tell us to prepare our house, to prepare food, to buy gifts and have them beautifully wrapped. But as always, God is about our hearts – Advent is a time to prepare our hearts for the celebration in remembrance of Jesus Christ coming to this earth as a baby.
Prepare our Hearts at Advent
Preparing our hearts can seem cliché – what does it mean? Our heart is where we hold what we believe, which affects our choices, our emotions, our passions. So the question really is – do we let Jesus be the center of what we believe at Christmas time and do we let that change our life?
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One of the traditions that Christians have celebrated for many years is the Advent Wreath. An Advent Wreath is made of a circle of green leaves (symbolizing life, everlasting life) with four candles. These candles are traditionally purple represent the coming King (purple being a royal colour). One candle is lit each Sunday of Advent, as a family, or church, focus on Jesus: our hope, peace, joy and love. Sometimes a fifth white candle is placed in the middle to celebrate the coming of the Saviour, light of the world on Christmas Day itself.
If we are to be sincere in preparing our hearts for the coming King we need to keep in balance the physical aspects of our celebrations with the spiritual.
- Is our to-do list so long we don’t make time for maintaining our personal relationship with Jesus?
- Is it so important to have everything right, every symbol right, every detail right, that we forget to share the real story with our children? (for example – purple candles are really hard to find in my town!)
- Do we get so focused on the food, the decoration and the gifts that there is no room in our heart for Jesus and the things that are important to him?
- There is so much good stuff that can be made into a homeschool unit study that we don’t have time to live life with our kids!
- We need to guard our hearts, and our homes, in regards to how we celebrate Christmas. Is Jesus the center of your Christmas or have the celebrations, the idea of family memories, an even doing good things overtaken the wonder of Jesus coming to earth as a baby, because He loved you and me.
My Christmas mantra has been for many years:
Keep your spirit gentle
Keep your house peaceful and
Keep your heart full of love.
Practical ways to Prepare your Heart for Christmas:
- Plan early what activities you are going to be involved in, and don’t over commit.
- Consider your family budget and ways to be wise stewards of all of your resources – time, energy, money, talents
- Think through the activities your family gets involved with and consider any heart lessons that can be talked about at those times.
- Be aware of any family members who may be ready to give their hearts to Jesus as you discuss the gift Jesus has given us.
- Plan your family devotions ahead of time – prepare your own heart so you can talk about these things to your children from your own conviction not just reading a devotion or lesson plan.
- Be aware of an area of service your family can pick up during this season.
But most of all, don’t feel like you have to do it all – the one and only thing is important and that is that we remember the act of love by Jesus coming as a baby.
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