Observing Advent has been an important part of my family’s Christmas traditions. I am not quite sure when I started observing Advent regularly as an adult, but I remember being a child and my parents would gather my brother and me while they lit the various candles on the advent wreath and read some scripture. As far as I was concerned, Advent was a wreath, some candles, and special readings.
Now as an adult, I eagerly look forward to Advent each year as I try to be more mindful and reflective during this particular season. Since our children were little, Brad and I have gathered the kids together on Sunday evenings to light the candle for the week and to read the appropriate scripture. Then each night at dinner we light the candle(s) for that week as a nightly ritual. Beyond the lighting of the Advent wreath, our family traditions in regards to Advent do not consist of much more. If you have never observed Advent before, I would encourage you to give it a try. There are some great books and websites available on the internet, and if you search “Advent” you will find all sorts of resources. I don’t have a particular book or website that I use. Rather I have collected resources over the years from all sorts of places.
In recent years, I have enjoyed reading through an Advent devotional published by Regent College. At first Regent would send the devotional for free, but now because of shipping costs they charge a small fee. Each day has a scripture verse and a morning and evening reading. The devotionals are written by Regent professors and alums. I find this devotional to be thoughtful and something I look forward to each year. It certainly reminds me that Advent is a time of waiting, preparation, and anticipation.
Another reason that Advent is significant to me is that I really get the waiting part right now. I have no idea what our future holds. I confess I don’t always wait patiently either. I would really like to know whether or not there is a job for Brad at the end of this PhD journey, and I would also like to know where the job will be! However, if I read scripture carefully I see time and again where God’s people are waiting for redemption, deliverance, or the Messiah. I also find many references to “waiting patiently for the Lord.” And so, Advent reminds to wait. I can also be assured that my waiting is not in vain. God has been faithful to me and my family in more ways than I can list here. As I try to pause and quiet my heart and mind during this busy season, I hope I can reflect on God’s faithfulness, and prepare my heart to hear the Christmas story as if hearing it for the very first time.