Everyone loves a new beginning.
We don't have to wait until the new year to start over; the first Sunday of Advent signals the beginning of the church calendar. It's a perfect time to hit the refresh button on your spiritual life and prepare your heart to welcome the new born King on Christmas Day.
Advent is a season of waiting and preparing for two things. First, we celebrate that the Savior of the World became flesh and dwelt among people—God with us—thousands of years ago. Second, we expectantly await Him coming again to judge the living and the dead. The readings for first two Sundays of Advent look forward to the Second Coming of Christ, while the readings for the last two Sundays of Advent look backward to His birth.
With "the most wonderful time of the year" just around the corner, the original fasting component to Advent often gets lost in the feasting of the holidays. While it may be hard to fast (from anything) during the weeks of holiday parties and events, it's a perfect time to renew some spiritual practices that may have gotten squeezed out of your schedule. Below are some ideas and resources to observe Advent and make a fresh start.
1. Use an advent wreath with candles at your dinner table and read the traditional verses that go with each candle. Years ago, we had an issue with overly eager fire enthusiasts in our home so we stopped using candles during devotional time. But I think we're ready to bring them back.
3. Use the chocolate Advent calendars that have a Scripture verse every day to go along with the sweet treat.
4. Make a Jesse Tree. There are so many ways to do this, some simple and some very crafty and complex. Go to Pinterest for ideas but don't forget the goal is to teach the story of salvation through Jesus, not to create frustration for you or your little people!
5. Arnold Ytreeide's books for children are excellent, especially the one for Advent. As I write I'm realizing that we've gotten away from a lot of the things we did when our oldest children were small. I know my littlest boys will love Jotham's Journey: A Storybook for Advent. It's a chapter book so it can be read throughout the evenings of Advent.