At Granny's House, the first Sunday of Advent means getting out the advent wreath, finding the appropriate candles, locating our current advent book, and setting aside time as a family (including any visitors still sharing leftover turkey with us) to sing, read, and pray together each night.
We live in a challenging household where, I am sorry to say, family devotions are more sporadic than I would like them to be. But Advent is the happy exception....at this time of year the nightly gathering, complete with lighting of the candles and singing of carols, is almost as regular as the setting sun. It's a time that honors our Savior and makes memories for our children and grandchildren.
I grew up in a tradition that pretty much ignored Advent along with the rest of the traditional Christian church calendar. It was all-too-close-to-Catholic for the comfort of evangelicals, and so our churches very spiritually replaced a four-week commemoration of Christ's coming with cookie exchanges and parties where someone's dad dressed up in a Santa suit and passed out candy and Dollar Store trinkets. Hmmmmm.....
So I'm thrilled to be part of a corner of American Protestantism that is not afraid to join with Christians throughout the world and through the ages in remembering the coming of Christ for more than just two or three frenzied days. I want my children and grandchildren to know the slow, purposeful, anticipatory joy of nightly worship in our home, punctuated by the coordinating observance in our Sunday service each week. Christmas, then, becomes another way that our families are knit together with each other and with a long line of Believers who have received the greatest Gift.
For the past few years, we've used the advent resources authored by Arnold Ytreeide for our nightly devotions. He has written a trilogy of short novels divided into chapters which correlate with the number of nights in Advent. They tell exciting stories set in the time around the birth of Christ and build each night toward a stirring Christmas Eve conclusion, and they illustrate concepts that we want to emphasize during our month-long observance. Parts of the stories maybe pretty intense for the tiniest children, but we've found that they are enjoyed and appreciated by most everyone, even the oldest among us (read: Grannies).
If you think you'd like to incorporate these books into your family's celebration, here are some links to the books of the trilogy:
Jotham's Journey: A Storybook for Advent
Bartholomew's Passage: A Family Story for Advent
Tabitha's Travels: A Family Story for Advent
We're looking forward to the weeks of reading, praying, and singing about Christmas with our children and grandchildren. I hope that however you choose to observe these weeks, they will be full of meaning and memories for all of you....