If you know me, then you know Advent is one of my favorite times of year and I will talk your ear off about how great Advent is.
I feel deeply that advent calls to the heart of a sojourner. The longing, the hopeful expectation, the crossroads of already, but not yet. It’s a mournful, yet still hopeful cry that says, Come, Lord Jesus, come!
The desire for all to be made whole, for Christ to come again and call his people home. Advent is for the wait. The reminder that as we come to celebrate Christ’s first advent, his birth as a baby, we are to look forward to his future promises in his second advent. We live in this tension of promises received, but still lacking our complete glorification.
Come, thou long expected Jesus,
Born to set They people free;
from our fears and sins release us,
let us find our rest in thee.
It’s a beautiful season.
Advent has definitely seen a resurgence in some Protestant denominations, but mostly in the evangelical camp. I’m glad our subculture is beginning to remember liturgy and traditions can be helpful means of remembering and teaching Christ in the life of the Church. I’ve found CRI Voice to be a good introduction to the season of Advent.
I wanted to share a few Advent resources and traditions we’ve done throughout the years, as well as a few new things I’ve found.
The Jesus Storybook Bible & the Jesse Tree
When my children were young, I tried reading through Ann Voskamp’s Jesse Tree devotional and hung the printable ornaments. The length of those devotions were a bit long for the little ones, but the ornaments were a favorite and became known as “hanging promises.” We eventually started reading related portions of The Jesus Storybook Bible.
Many families have found this works well for them and you can find a variety of Advent reading plans to go along with The Jesus Storybook Bible. You can find more ideas here.
- Advent Calendar Printable + Reading Plan
- Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas, Ann Voskamp
Advent Wreath & Candles
Our advent wreath is one of my favorite parts of the season. It’s a beautiful reminder of how Jesus is the light of the world and in light the darkness scatters. We get to see that beautiful truth as we light a new candle each week. At the beginning of Advent, it’s dark and we can hardly see the little faces peering around the table, but by Christmas Day the light is bright enough to shine throughout the room.
It’s a simple and beautiful way to show our children how Jesus makes the darkness flee and how darkness can be a representation of sin and in Jesus’s redemption that darkness flees.
The circle wreath reminds us God is eternal and is mercy and love is unending. The four candles on the wreath stand for the four hundred years between the prophets and the coming of Christ. They also symbolize the hope, love, joy, and peace Jesus brings (as well as many other things). Three of the candles are purple, symbolizing royalty, and one pink (usually used for the third week). The white center candle, called the Christ candle, is lit on Christmas Day in celebration of Jesus entering the world and being the Light of the World.
There’s plenty of options when it comes to Advent wreaths. I bought a frame from Hobby Lobby, stuck it on a plain wreath, and added a few sparkles here and there.
In some traditions, people withhold from playing Christmas carols, hymns, and songs until Christmas Day, which is the first day of Christmas and continues until Epiphany. The idea is to keep in the remembrance and mood, so to speak, of the Advent season, the already, but not yet, waiting to sing the more celebratory songs once Christmas arrives.
In our house we play both, but I do tend to lean more toward Advent songs in the first few weeks. Here’s a list of Advent songs.
I’m a big fan of Spotify, so of course I have our own Advent playlist on there. My goal is to find the perfect version of O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, so right now there’s about 20 different versions. I might be exaggerated a little. You’ll also notice a lot of Andrew Peterson on my Advent playlist. These songs aren’t particularly made for Advent, but definitely have echoes of the season (I love me some AP music).
- Advent Songs, Sojourn
- A Child is Born, Sojourn
- Advent to Christmas, Page CXVI
- Behold the Lamb of God, Andrew Peterson (if you can get to his yearly concert tour, it’s totally worth it)
- Christmas Songs, Jars of Clay
- O Holy Night, Sara Groves
- Repeat the Sounding Joy, Citizens & Saints
- A Day of Glory, Austin Stone Worship
- A Light, The Liturgists
- Oh Light, The Liturgists
- The Waiting Songs, Rain for Roots (This is a new Advent album for kids made in part by the wonderful Sandra McCracken. It’s also included in Prime.)
Most of these are on Spotify and Amazon Prime, but a few are on one or the other and Behold the Lamb is on neither. But it’s good enough, you’ll want to buy it anyway. 😉
This is one of my children’s favorite things. One year we received a package on our doorstep from someone named Traveler. Inside the package were Advent candles, a few letters (and more came later), and a book, Dangerous Journey: The Story of Pilgrim’s Progress for children.
It’s been such a treasure and wonder for our family to dig into the Advent season as a sojourner and for our little ones to begin to understand this life of faith is a journey and to long for Jesus’ kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven as we wait for Christ to come again.
We’ve compiled the letters, along with hymns, psalms, and poems into a weekly Advent devotional. You can find Journey here:
There are so many Advent devotionals and readings out there I’m sure to leave out a few good ones. This is a list of Advent books that either I’ve used or have heard great things about from friends.
- The Dawning of Indestructible Joy, John Piper (free download)
- Counting the Days, Lighting the Candles: A Christmas Advent Devotional, Elyse Fitzpatrick
- Come, Lord Jesus: The Weight of Waiting, Kris Camealy
- Good News of Great Joy, John Piper (free + available on the Solid Joys app)
- Behold the Lamb of God, Russ Ramsey (goes along with Andrew Peterson’s Behold the Lamb of God album)
If this is your first time observing Advent or you’re looking to try something new, I hope you find something that works for you. But even more I hope you know the love of Christ and are encouraged to pursue him in the longing and waiting of Advent.