Okay, so yesterday I briefly explained what Advent is and what it's already meant to me this year.
Now I want to share some ways you can participate in Advent!
First of all, I recommend the Advent study from Good Morning Girls. The Scriptures are short, the activities are easy, and they've already put everything together for you. You can do it on your own or include your family. Personally, I've enjoyed the family activities and my kids have too. Today we made peppermint bark and you should have seen my kiddos whacking those candy canes to bits - they didn't stand a chance!
If you don't want to follow an actual study, you could read Bible verses related to Jesus' birth each day in December leading up to Christmas. Nothing brings you closer to Jesus than reading about Him in the Bible! Here's a list of 25 Christmas related Scriptures. And if you have kids, you can print this list out and make it into a Christmas countdown paper chain!
One of my favorite ideas is a Jesse Tree. According to Christmas Your Way, a Jesse Tree is an Advent activity in which you place one ornament each day on a Christmas tree of your choice. Each ornament has a picture which represents "a bit of lineage of Christ," beginning from creation and traveling through the Old and New Testaments to Jesus' birth. The inspiration comes from Isaiah 11:1, which says, "A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit." Jesus is that Branch.
Christmas Your Way has a super kid-friendly printable ornaments that your kids can color each day and place on your Jesse Tree. The illustrations are blank and look like pictures from a coloring book. (This is what we're going to use this year! Now I just have to come up with a Jesse Tree by tomorrow...)
I found more printable ornaments from A Holy Experience which are already colored and look a little more grown up. Or you can print them off in black and white to be colored by your kids. (Or you.) They even offer a downloadable Jesse Tree Advent ebook with short devotionals for each day. You should check it out!
You could make an Advent wreath, or make/buy an Advent calendar. The possibilities are endless with a calendar! You could choose to buy one (believe me, there are a TON out there!), or you could make one. I've seen a Nativity calendar on which you add a part of the scene each day, ending with Jesus on Christmas day, and I've seen one shaped like a Christmas tree on which you add an "ornament" each day. I've even seen a handmade Santa calendar on which you place a cotton ball each day to complete Santa's beard by Christmas. (Thank you Pinterest!)
Some Advent calendars are made to hold something small for each day, like little gifts or candy. My sweet friend over at More Sweet Tea Please? is filling hers with slips of paper containing random acts of kindness which she's planning on doing with her 3 year old.
And if you don't have an official Advent calendar or countdown to use, you could always just come up with a list of 25 activities to do. They could be acts of kindness, Christmas crafts, baking, or fun family activities. Or a combination! There's a lot of freedom here. I've started a list for my family and tomorrow we'll be kicking things off by making a coundown paper chain.
So I've shared just a few ways to celebrate Advent. I encourage you to find a way to celebrate by yourself or with your family! Any Christian would benefit greatly by making it a point to focus on Jesus this season. We all know how easy it is to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holidays, but celebrating Advent, however you choose, can prepare your heart to fully feel the hope and joy of the miracle of Jesus' birth, the love and grace we receive every day, and the promise of His return!
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.