Originally published Tuesday, 02 December 2014.
Advent. It means “coming.” It is an invitation to come and adore Christ.
Every year I’m excited for Advent. Every year Advent centers my heart on what counts as Christmas nears. It helps me keep close Christ amidst the hustle and bustle so that Christmas Eve doesn’t arrive and it just dawns on me, O yeah, I’m supposed to be celebrating Jesus’ birth!
It is so easy to get caught up in the stress and expectations of Christmas: to make it bigger and better. But I want to teach my kids Christmas isn’t about the tree, lights, cookies, and gifts. It’s not about materialism or even family.
It’s about the coming of Jesus.
So this is how we’ll quieting our hearts this Christmas.
1. For Me:
I’ll be reading Ann Voskamp’s advent devotional The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas. I also will be sporadically reading Nancy Guthrie’s compilation of Advent readings by various authors entitled Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus.
2. For the Family:
We’ll be reading through Ann Voskamp’s Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmasas a family. Along with these readings we will hang our Jesse tree ornaments on some bare branches I will gather and place in a vase. If you’ve not heard of a Jesse tree, it’s a celebration of Advent using ornaments as symbols to tell the redemption story from the Old Testament through Jesus’ birth and gets its name from Isaiah 11:1: “There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.”
You can download your very own beautifully watercolored Jesse tree ornaments for free from The Story Warren. They have created a lovely advent package that contains daily readings from Scripture and to go along with the ornaments they provide (you have to print and assemble).
3. For the Kids:
Also, in the morning we’ll be following this Jesus Storybook Advent Reading Plan while eating breakfast. We’ll actually be listening to the David Suchet read version on CD. Suchet is better known as Agatha Christie’s Poirot for Masterpiece Mystery. His dramatic reading of the The Jesus Storybook Bible is captivating.
Faith Gateway is distributing this version of the Jesus Storybook Advent plan that also includes printable ornaments with daily Bible readings printed on the back.
There are so many advent options it can be hard to pick just one! But it doesn’t have to be complicated. I hope some of these suggestions and resources will enrich the Christmas season for your family.
If you already celebrate Advent, would you share your family’s tradition in the comment section?
Danielle Ayers Jones has been a contributing writer for the online magazine, Ungrind, and has written for Thriving Family, Clubhouse, Jr., Radiant, and Relevant. She also combines her love of writing and photography on her blog, www.danielleayersjones.com. It’s a space where she seeks to find beauty in everyday places, joy in hardship, and encouragement in unexpected places. Danielle currently lives in Maryland with her husband and three children. You can follow her on Twitter @daniajones.
Let go of the busyness and stress of the holiday season and open your heart and mind to peace by experiencing the joy of Jesus' birth as you use 12 Advent Prayers! Finding quiet time during the holidays will help you reflect on the reason for Christmas and preparing our hearts to celebrate Christ's birth. Let us know in the comments how you are preparing your heart!