The word Advent is Latin for “to come”. We use the word in the English language as an arrival of something important and so we celebrate the most important arrival. With great adoration, we celebrate the gift of the First Coming and with deep longing and expectation, we await the Second Coming of the best and merciful gift.
I did not grow up following the liturgical calendar but as my family has studied church traditions we have come to love so much of what believers before us did to honor God. Not out of necessity for sanctification but to increase wonder and remembrance.
“Earth breaks up, time drops away, In flows heaven, with it’s new day
Of endless life, when He who trod, Very man and very God,This earth in weakness, shame and pain, Dying the death whose signs remain
Up yonder on the accursed tree,—Shall come again, no more to be
Of captivity the thrall, But the one God, All in all, King of kings, Lord of lords, As His servant John received the words,“I died, and live for evermore!” -Robert Browning
Not everything we do during the Advent/ Christmas season has a religious tone but resting well with Family in truth and goodness is also a part of the goal during the month of December, so we take it slow, plan little and enjoy one another’s company as a sweet gift of God.
Our Family Advent Traditions:
Advent Family Worship– Devotional: The Dawning of Indestructible Joy by John Piper. We use this for our Family Devotional reading for the month of December. Hymn: Silent Night and Oh Come All Ye Faithful.
Advent Calendars– We are recreating this lovely calendar from Mer Mag. I may be painting stars right up till Advent Devotion tonight but what a sweet tradition. I remember growing up in Germany we had sweet little chocolate advent calendars houses and you know sweets aren’t the Gospel but the are a good gift we can rejoice that we have in this season. I haven’t decided what else to put in the star but maybe it will be a question we can ask each other at Advent Family Worship.
Ornaments for our Advent Readings– Every year we have made ornaments, whether for a Jesse Tree or for our Christmas Tree, this year, we are making encaustic (my art medium, it is pigmented wax and more) family collaboration ornaments. We are making one for each day of the Advent readings to hang on our tree.
Good Reading– Our Christmas reads this year are The Bird’s Christmas Carol, Little Women (I watched Little Women with my Mother every Christmas and since I am a book before movie person and I feel Emma is ready, we are reading Little Women for the first time together), and The Cloud of Witness (which is a daily read all year).
Joyful Work– In past years we have made jam for neighbors or screen printed ornaments for friends, we might make garland for our tree or bake a treat for someone. This is not antithetic to the rest we celebrate in the Advent season because we honor God in purposeful and joyful work and giving.
A Habit of Rest– We Protect the schedule and don’t overplan. There is time needed to awe in the wonder of the truths we hear. A culture of Black Fridays and 1 million events has allowed us to fill rest with busyness. Being busy for the sake of being busy is not good work. To do good work you must rest in goodness, beauty and truth.
What are your advent traditions new and old? Christmas is coming, Jesus is coming. Let us Adore him around our hearths and in our homes.
I avoided posting during the holidays to try to minimize some of the stress that comes with holiday deadlines. I hope your Christmas was so sweet and thoughtful of Christ. We had a slightly busy but sweet holiday and are thankful for all that God has provided and reminded us during this advent season. I will admit I was a little stressed out this Christmas because a lot of things I wanted to get done and wasn’t able to between sickness and obligations. But I had to let it go and give it to God.
I wanted to share our Family Christmas Card and some of the family images from our Christmas # (i love dedicated hashtags), I hope you’ll enjoy it:
It’s cold outside, It feels like winter, somewhat, as wintery as the South gets sometimes. We, as a nation have just celebrated the Day of Thanks this past week and personally, for the Benson family, we completed another wonderful year of Emma in the Nutcracker. It was beautiful as always. I am very thankful for experiences I get to share with my family and every new day. So as we go in to our Christmas Season and try to keep thankfulness on our hearts there are ways we can give ourselves reminders of not only thankfulness but so much more.
My favorite thing about Christmas is lovely Advent. I am sure many of you have heard of the Jesse Trees or Advent wreaths or Lighting the Candles. So what is Advent?
“the Advent season focuses on expectation and think that it serves as an anticipation of Christ’s birth in the season leading up to Christmas. This is part of the story, but there’s more to Advent.” Justin Holcomb
Advent is that, it is a waiting and expecting for the coming King. We, a weary world needs a savior king and we are waiting for him. The good news he has come and he is coming. It is the already, not yet of it all and it is truly a beautiful sound to our ears, the song of hope that has cried out to us since before we ever heard it, or our fathers and their fathers heard it.
We indeed are weary, we all know it. I don’t know one person that I think “oh they’ll be ok” without the sustaining power of a savior king. The problem is we are all not “ok”. We get up, start our daily labor, we toil and hurt and bleed and cry, we go to rest worn to our bare bones and we get up and do it all again, it’s enough to make me scream some days. It may feel hopeless and it truly, truly is…without a light bringer to give us hope and peace it always will be.
Im not being a downer or depressing when I say we cannot do it alone but the truth of the matter is we can’t. We live in a broken world with broken people which have broken desires and lives and we expect that we can be good enough and that we can shake heaven and earth with our own hands. There is so much grace in knowing I am not good enough. It is contrary to worldly advice but I am saying there is so much comfort and peace when you can surrender it all and say “not without you, can I accomplish anything”. Recent events in the world may have us down and feel very discouraging but know that brokenness is not to be unexpected in out world but there is so much hope, a remedy to brokenness…
There is so much hope in the surrendering of ourselves and saying yes, I am broken and there is nothing that can fix this brokenness. There is such good news though. The Christ child has already come and our broken Hallelujahs should be brimming from our lips in praise, not just in Advent but in every season and every day and every minute of that day. Let me stop a second to take that in and remind myself of that truth that I don’t always heed. The news gets even better too, we don’t have to wait for the baby Jesus anymore, or for the man that was Christ, he has ALREADY come and rescued us but we still wait… we wait with anticipation for him to come again and make all things unbroken, new again. Sally Lloyd Jones is one of my favorite writers, she writes children’s books and in the Jesus StoryBook Bible she says so heartbreakingly poetic how he will make all the bad things come undone. It’s that “already..not yet” thing I mentioned.
‘One day- but NOT YET- Jesus is coming back again. Not as a baby this time, but as King of the whole world. And then he will mend his broken world. There will be no more tears, or sickness, or dying. Even the tress will sing for joy!
While we wait, God wants us to remember: sin, sickness, tears, death- they won’t last. They will come to an end. But joy, life, and you- those are FOREVER.
‘The night is nearly over; the day is almost here” Romans 13:12’
It is such a beautiful story. Advent is a beautiful way for your family to celebrate and give thanks and praise for things that last forever.
Today is the first day of Advent and here are a few resources, its not too late to start today being thankful for a broken world becoming unbroken:
The Dawning of Indestructible Joy from John Piper (free pdf available for download)-We are going to do this as part of our family worship time.
Unwrapping the Greatest gift-We will do this each morning during advent along with our Jesse Tree and our fun door calendar.
Let me know how your Advent-ing is going this year and what you are doing, excited to begin our Advent Journey today.