Today starts my favorite time of the year. Advent… the waiting, the anticipating, the looking forward to the coming King. I so appreciate growing up in the Lutheran church that celebrated the Sundays of Advent, and now celebrating it daily in the 4 weeks leading up to Christmas with our family is one of my favorite traditions.
I always have high hopes… to be organized and ready when this first Sunday of Advent arrives, to see my family quietly soaking up the Word in the candlelight, to not let this daily tradition get lost in the busyness of the Christmas rush, to let this be a jumpstart for our family devotional time.
And of course, this first Sunday of Advent begins like most, with me scrambling through the boxes in the basement looking for the Advent box. Surely I’ve kept the Advent wreath/candles/devotional in one WELL-MARKED box that’s easy to access, haven’t I? Every year after Christmas I promise I will… No luck tonight in finding it.
And the “real” Advent in the Toone home begins. Instead of our Advent wreath with 5 candles, I light candles around our Willow Tree nativity scene. We gather on the couch and talk about hope (the theme for the first Sunday of Advent). Brian reads 1 Peter 1:3-5 about our blessed hope, some of my favorite verses, and I hope that my 6- and 4-year old will have a lightbulb moment and understand how hoping in Christ is so much greater than hoping in the world. Analise wiggles and coughs, Josiah plays with sunglasses and can’t sit still next to Brian, and of course, at some point I speak sharply about all the annoying wiggles. *sigh… grace, grace… * We share what we hope for, and after I share that I hope we’ll all love Jesus more this Christmas, both kids hope for something from Santa. *another sigh* No sacred quiet meditations and deep spiritual awakenings tonight. But this is Advent in real life, in my crazy wonderful family.
I hope I’ll be able to find my Advent wreath. I hope we might have some lightbulb moments this Advent as we remember this Christmas is NOT about us. I hope that our family will be drawn to this quiet time looking towards our great and glorious Hope. I hope that we’ll put this family time first in the busyness, but I’ll also cloth myself in grace. And I hope this Advent will turn our family hearts more towards Christ, not just this season, but every day.
***Today one of my favorite, favorite blogs, A Holy Experience, has posted a free Jesse Tree Advent devotional if you subscribe to her daily email (which is AMAZING!!). A Jesse Tree (please forgive my basic explanation – she does it much better!) is a tree branch with ornaments that all symbolize Christ. We read the devotional tonight, perfect for young and old alike, and I’m looking forward to getting our Jesse Tree started tomorrow. The devotional booklet is BEAUTIFUL, and it would make the perfect way to celebrate Advent in your home. It includes printed ornaments that can be cut out and hung each day. Hope you’ll choose to enjoy it with us!