The Christmas season seems to begin earlier and earlier each year, doesn’t it? It is not unusual to see Halloween costumes and Christmas trees set up in the same store, at the same time! But that’s retail.
In the Christian world December 2 marks the first Sunday of Advent for 2018. Advent is a time of preparation for Christmas that is different from the retail world. The word advent from the Latin adventus, means “coming” or “arrival.” The season of Advent is focused on the coming of Jesus as Messiah (Christ or King).
Traditionally, the season of Advent begins four Sundays before Christmas and continues through December 24, while the Christmas season starts on December 25 and goes until the Epiphany on January the 6th.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the Christmas preparations fuelled by the retail sector but I wonder if we really have a chance to stop and prepare our hearts and our minds to receive our Saviour. That is the whole purpose of Advent.
I must admit that I love that, as a pastor, I have the privilege to set aside time to reflect on the Christmas story as I prepare for Advent and Christmas services at Amberlea. I get that it’s not always easy for those outside the ministry to do that. So as Advent approaches I wanted to share some resources with you.
There are a great number of Advent devotionals that you can access online or at your neighbourhood Christian book store.
Here are four I highly recommend:
1. God With Us: Rediscovering the Meaning of Christmas edited by Greg Pennoyer and Gregory Wolfe
My favourite Advent devotional by far. Gorgeous, full-colour art plates (both classic and contemporary) for each day of Advent and Christmastide. Devotional introductions and reflections on the weekly Scripture readings and prayers include authors like Eugene Peterson, Scott Cairns, Luci Shaw, Emilie Griffin, Richard John Neuhaus and Kathleen Norris. A beautiful addition to your Advent & Christmas decorations
2. Celebrating Abundance by Walter Brueggemann - only just browsed through this but so far it looks great. I LOVE Brueggemann’s daily prayers and reflections.
3. Unwrapping the Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp
Love this! This is an adaptation, for families, of her best selling book The Greatest Gift. It is beautiful to look at and it directs you to scripture, as well as including devotional reading and simple activities. It is truly written for all ages, so the entire family can join in.
4. Welcome Baby Jesus by Sarah A. Reinhard
Perfect for families with young children of multiple ages. The readings are short and simple. There are three sections to each day’s instalment: Think, Pray, Act. Think provides a thoughtful devotional reading.
It’s my prayer that as you take some time to reflect, pray and respond during Advent that Christ will become even more special to you during the this very special time of year!
This Sunday we will begin the Advent season with a wonderful Intergenerational service. Please plan to join us.
Also, because it is a time of preparation, anticipation and surprises I will have a surprise for one of you. When I ask:
What does the word Advent mean?
Answer with the response “coming or arrival” and you will receive a lovely gift!
See you Sunday!