Today is the first Sunday of Advent, the season in the Christian calendar when Christians have traditionally prepared for the coming (Advent) of the Messiah. We’re in a bit of a pressure-cooker season, so I’m not sure how much preparation will get done. But even if my halls go completely undecked, we’ll set up our Advent Wreath, pray to Jesus that our house doesn’t catch fire, and prepare our hearts if nothing else.
In years past, we’ve used Celebrate Jesus at Christmas, a family advent devotional that goes through Epiphany. It has a short devotion, scripture reading, song, and activities for each day. Alas, we’ve have used it for several years, and we need something geared toward older kids. One of the things I love about the book was that it had activities to use with a nativity set (preferably not breakable!), so that young kids could act out the story of Christmas through the advent season. This is the set we used for that purpose, seen in the box above.
This year, we’re using an out of print book (that you can get used!) Christ in Christmas: A Family Advent Celebration. It has a longer (probably 10-15 minutes) reading/devotional for the four Sundays and Christmas Eve, and brief scripture readings for the weekdays. Honestly, as much as I’ve enjoyed the devotions from years past, I’m looking forward to simpler, less involved devotions. Fortunately, all the kids are at the age where they can sit through a few minutes of reading and singing that isn’t specifically geared toward little kids. Or unfortunately. They grow up so fast! If you don’t have something for Advent on hand, but do want to celebrate this special season, take heart! There are many, great, free resources available.
Compass Classroom is offering a free Advent reader to download that combines the Advent Wreath with the Jesse Tree. The author has suggestions for the Advent calendar/Jesse Tree symbols, but it’s pretty laid back. I like laid back. Our tradition is to alternate using the Jesse Tree with the Advent Wreath. In Jesse Tree years, we’ve used The Advent Jesse Tree by Dean Lambert, although I may look at this Jesse Tree book by Ann Voskamp for next year.
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The Reformed Church in America has free Advent/Jesse Tree devotions with printable Jesse Tree symbols.
Desiring God has a free resource that has 25 short devotional readings. I think I’m going to use this for my personal devotions during December and encourage my girls to do the same.
There are probably others, too. Even if you don’t use a formal collection of Advent devotions or don’t put up a Jesse Tree or Advent Wreath, I hope you’ll prepare for Christmas in your heart and not just in your home.
Have a blessed Advent.