175 McMichael Road, Carnegie, PA US 15106
“Come over tonight and celebrate Advent with my family.” My first thought to this invitation from my girlfriend, now wife, Lori, was, “What in the world is Advent?” However, I was smitten. If she invited me over to help cut the grass one blade at a time with scissors, I would have asked, “What time?”
When I arrived that evening to celebrate my first Advent, I followed her family into the living room. A wreath was on the table with a white candle in the middle surrounded by four more candles, one of which was pink. The Advent “service” included Scripture reading, prayer, the lighting of a candle and singing Christmas carols. After one song, one of Lori’s little sisters looked my direction and said, “Somebody is mumbling.” My first Advent participation was less than impressive. The Advent time was simple, meaningful and short enough for Lori’s two younger sisters to stay engaged.
Over the years, we have kept Advent as a part of our family tradition. We have used an Advent guide that Lori made in a fourth-grade Sunday school class. Although a bit worn, the guide has served us well, guiding us through one of our favorite traditions.
Our hope is that you will make Advent a part of your family's Christmas celebration.
But please, don’t make Advent a legalistic ritual. That is not the purpose. We do not celebrate Advent “by the letter of the law.” During some Christmas seasons, travel has kept us from celebrating the first Sunday, and college has been interrupting the flow at various times over the past ten years.
A few times we have covered a couple Sundays on Christmas Eve when our whole family was together. No matter what, we always have fun!
There have been long discussions over who would light the candles. We have four children, so thankfully there was a candle for each one! Our daughter, Lara, was born on Christmas Day though, so she always gets to light the Christ candle on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. It is the little details like these that have helped make Advent such a memorable tradition. The wax running down the candles has always been a little too intriguing. When the kids were young, blowing the candles out needed special instruction so hot wax wasn’t sent flying. Sometimes, our singing has started with the carol of the day and then morphed into a medley of every Christmas song we know with many special effects and as much laughter as singing.
The Advent celebration is a tradition that strengthens our family, and brings us together each year with Christ at the center.
Lori and I feel so strongly that this is such an impactful way to get focused on the true meaning of Christmas that we wrote an Advent devotional. You can find a copy in The Bible Chapel’s bookstore, and Lori has found some creative ways to make your own wreath, which can be found here: https://www.pinterest.com/explore/diy-advent-wreath/?lp=true
Our prayer is that this guide will help you start a celebration of Advent with your family, keep your Christmas focused on Jesus, and create some fun and meaningful spiritual memories.