Taken from Good Tidings of Great Joy: An Advent Celebration of the Savior's Birth, 16-17.
For other Christmas ideas, see the page "Preparing for Christmas"
“When I was very young and living in East Germany, Christmas in our family began four weeks before Christmas Eve with the beginning of Advent. We made a fresh cut wreath from a fur or a spruce and put four candles on top of it and placed it on our kitchen table. On the fourth Sunday before Christmas, we lit the first candle. Then each night until Christmas, my family gathered around the table and sang Christmas songs and listened to Christmas stories. . . . Advent was a time of anticipation and hope and it brought a special feeling into our humble home as we prepared for something holy and beautiful. Each Sunday we lit one additional candle, by the fourth Sunday our expectations for the coming joyous events had reached their peak." (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, address delivered at First Presidency’s Christmas Devotional, Salt Lake City, December 2008, transcription of audio; available at http://lds.org/library/display/0,4945,8450-1-4729-1,00.html)
|Giotto Bondone, The Nativity (Wikimedia Commons)|
Awake, calls the voice to us of the watchmen high up in the tower;Awake, you city of Jerusalem.Midnight the hour is named; they call to us with bright voices;Where are you, wise virgins?Indeed, the Bridegroom comes; rise up and take your lamps,Alleluia!Make yourselves ready for the wedding, you must go to meet Him.
In 2002, our family decided to incorporate Advent into our own Christmas traditions, and it became a particular favorite of our daughter, Rachel. She was five at the time, and I remember how much I enjoyed explaining to her the symbolism of the small wreath that we had purchased, describing how the wreath represents the never-ending circle of God's love, showing that he is the same forever in his love toward his people. The green of the wreath, as in the Christmas tree, represents the hope of eternal life that comes through Christ and serves as a reminder of the freshness of God's love and promises. The light of the candles reminds us that Jesus is the Light of the World, that his birth represented the coming of that light into darkness, and that we are called to reflect that light in our lives.
|Rachel and Samuel with our Advent calendar|
Each weekly Advent post will be divided into sections. The first section, The Promised Advent, will review prophecies of the nativity of Christ.
Then in a section called On The Eve of His Coming we will then bring the story into the gospels by reflecting the experiences of Zacharias, Mary, Elisabeth, and Joseph as they witnessed the realization of these prophecies. For each of these vignettes I have included pictures of the sites in the Holy Land where, by tradition, they are believed to have occurred. The following video collage gives a foretaste of what these are like:
The next section will then reflect upon how Jesus fulfills that day's Advent theme, whether it by Hope, Love, Joy, or Peace.
The final section, Looking Forward to Christ's Second Advent, will consist of a scripture looking forward to Jesus' promised Second Coming and the blessings that will be realized at his return.
I also frequently feature special music for Advent. Some, such as "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel," are almost always Advent, but many customary Advent hymns are not as familiar now. As a result, even though some traditions reserve Christmas carols for Christmas Eve and the twelve days including and following Christmas, I have selected many familiar Christmas songs that nonetheless accord with the theme of each Advent Sunday.
At the end of the season I will then reflect on the the focus of Advent, salvation, by considering Book of Mormon prophecies of Christ. Finally, I will consider how we can keep the spirit of Christmas alive throughout the year.
- First Advent: Hope
- Second Advent: Love
- Third Advent: Joy
- O Antiphons: Awaiting the Coming of the Messiah
- Fourth Advent: Peace
- Christmas Eve
- The Focus of Advent and Christmas: Salvation
- Daily December Christmas Devotionals (A Family Resource Guide)
- Epiphany (Three Kings Day)
- The Presentation
- Christmas throughout the Year