Using this resource
Over the 4 weeks of Advent (the 4 weeks leading up to Christmas), you are invited to participated in a time of preparation for Christ’ breaking into the world. Advent concerns three ways Christ comes to us: long ago, as God incarnate in the newborn Jesus in Bethlehem; today, in our lives and our hearts, to awaken us to Life; and someday, as Christ triumphant, redeeming the entire world. This year, Advent begins on 27 November.
To help you and your family prepare, a series of resources are provided here for each of the four weeks of Advent. These include worship services, activities for small groups, and practices that you could do at home with either your household or individually. You do not need to use of the resources provided – you may use as little or as much as you like. Instead, you are invited to create your own ‘soundtrack’ – to use those things which will help you most in your journey of faith.
What is Advent?
by Barbara Laufersweiler: http://www.faith-at-home.com/articles/advent-expect.html
In the Roman Catholic, Episcopal, Anglican, Lutheran, and similar churches, the church year starts on the first day of Advent. The Christian liturgical season of Advent begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day. This is a season, not of celebration, but of anticipation and expectation, when we prepare to welcome Christ at Christmas.
For its three weeks or so, Advent is a time to “clear the decks” of our homes and our hearts. As we put aside some of our normal activities in order to prepare special foods and gifts, clean and decorate our homes, and plan what Christmas church service to attend, we might also choose some ways to prepare spiritually for Christmas… to focus on what makes this such a special time of year.
Some people light Advent wreath candles with a prayer at dinnertime, others listen to Advent music (“O Come, O Come Emmanuel” is a truly ancient Advent song), still others simply take time for prayer or quiet enjoyment of this time of Christmas preparation. We can savor our preparations and look ahead to the wonderful celebration on its way.
After Advent comes the traditional Christmas season – the festival celebration of Christ’s coming – which begins at the stroke of midnight on Christmas Eve and winds to a close on the twelfth day of Christmas, January 5. Can you imagine 12 days of celebration rather than one? Now that’s more than worthy of weeks of anticipation!
How can you prepare?
Build an Advent Wreath
Over the four weeks of Advent, one activity in which your household might like to participate is building and lighting an Advent Wreath. Each week there will be prayers and reflections provided for this. If an Advent Wreath is a practice your household will do, you might like to use the week before Advent (20 – 26 November) to get resources together and build your wreath.
To begin, put four candles on a wreath or at least in a circle (symbolizing Hope, Joy, Peace and Love). Traditionally the candles are purple, because in antiquity, purple dye was very expensive and it was the color of royalty. We use purple for Advent because it is the season of the coming of the King. If you can’t get purple candles, you can substitute blue ones. You can also make one of the candles pink if you like—technically, it is rose colored (the candle of Joy). If you have a fifth candle, it goes in the center of the wreath and it should be white (the Christ Candle – for Christmas Day). For the best appearance, make sure that all the candles are the same height, except the white one, which should be a little taller.
Alternatively, you might like to make a kids craft Advent wreath, available here with printable templates.
Week by Week Resources