By Pat Fenner
Advent. As a child, that word brought one thought to my mind: “Christmas is coming!” My mom would take out the Advent wreath, purchase a new version of an Advent calendar (I loved the ones with a different candy for each day!), and get started choosing which cookies to bake.
As I grew older, I moved away from my religious roots. I also put the Advent traditions aside, until, as it is for many of us, the kids came along. Something in me thought it would be fun to dust off my childhood traditions. But somehow, as a more mature and serious Christian, the ones from my youth now seemed a bit, well, shallow …
I wanted something different for my children; I wanted something more … because by the time I had children, and in the twenty-five plus years since then, I had experienced God’s love and mercy in a myriad of ways. From the “baby in Bethlehem,” to the “Savior of the world,” I am in awe of His power and of His provision.
When I think of Advent these days, I consider the remarkable humility that the Creator of the Universe took on when He clothed Himself in flesh. I consider the fragility that my all-powerful Savior assumed when He was born a baby. And, although there is much joy in getting ready for Christmas, I think we should not do it inattentively.
And so, over the years, I have read and prayed over concepts, talked with my husband and other parents, taken notes and tried different formats, and put together some ideas to help my family—and now you and yours—celebrate a thoughtful, intentional, Biblically and spiritually prepared Christmas season.
Of course, the most important thing to remember, no matter what you do, is to keep it age appropriate. At the same time, don’t underestimate a young child’s attention span when there’s good content and an unusual or well-presented format. Outside of the usual Christmas stories found in the Gospels, here are five other Scriptural resources to consider as you prepare for Christmas.
- Research key figures from the lineage of Jesus.
- Look up and talk about Messianic scriptures in the Old Testament.
- Discuss the Fruits of the Spirit.
- Create an Advent calendar that uniquely reflects your family.
- Each night, or at least once a week, conduct a family Advent service.
Create one yourself or use the simple Advent service below. It’s short and sweet; great to use with small children. If you leave the candles burning during the meal, it gives the evening a special ambience, too!
This year, as you celebrate the coming of Christmas, I pray that you and your family may see it in a new light, and be filled with the Life that comes from baby Jesus, the Creator of the Universe!
First Sunday in Advent:
We have come together to think about Advent, the coming of Jesus, the Christ, into our lives.
Scripture: “Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens, Your faithfulness to the skies … How priceless is your unfailing love!” (Psalm 16:5-7).
Light the 1st candle: We light this candle and thank you, Lord, for Your love
Sing: “Away in a Manger”
Prayer: Dear God, help us love others with the kind of love Jesus taught and lived. Amen.
Second Sunday in Advent:
This is the 2nd Sunday in Advent, when we prepare for the coming of Jesus, the Christ, into our lives. (Light the first candle.)
Scripture: “Shout with joy to God, all the earth! Sing the glory of His name! Make His praise glorious!” (Psalm 66:1,2).
Light the 2nd candle: We light this candle and thank you, Lord, for joy.
Sing: “Joy to the World”
Prayer: Dear God, we thank you for your love and joy that is with us always. Amen.
Third Sunday in Advent:
This is the 3rd Sunday in Advent, when we prepare for the coming of Jesus, the Christ, into our lives. (Light the first and second candles.)
Scripture: “The Lord gives strength to His people; the Lord blesses His people with peace” (Psalm 29:11).
Light the 3rd candle: We light this candle and thank you, Lord, for peace.
Sing: “O Little Town of Bethlehem”
Prayer: Dear God, we thank you for the love and joy of Christmas, the birthday of Jesus who brings us peace. Amen.
Fourth Sunday in Advent:
This is the 4th Sunday in Advent, when we prepare for the coming of Jesus, the Christ, into our lives. (Light the first 3 candles.)
Scripture: “We wait in hope for the Lord; He is our help and our shield. Psalm 33:20
Light the 4th candle: We light this candle and thank you, Lord, for hope.
Sing: “O Come, All Ye Faithful”
Prayer: Dear God, thank you for Jesus, in whom we place our hope. Amen.
This is Christmas Day, the birthday of Jesus, the Christ! (Light all 4 candles.)
Scripture: “I will praise you, O Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonders … I will sing praise to your name, O Most High!” (Psalm 9:1,2).
Light the white center candle: We light this candle and thank you, Lord, for Your Son!
Sing: “Silent Night”
Prayer: Say The Lord’s Prayer together.
Pat Fenner, a Yankee city-girl who has been adopted by the sleepy, sunny South, owns and writes for moms on family-related subjects at Mom’s Morning Coffee. She develops these ideas and offers more suggestions in her e-book “Advent Means Coming.” Married for twenty-nine years this November, she is a homeschooling mother of five.