“Take time to be aware that in the very midst of our busy preparations for the celebration of Christ’s birth in ancient Bethlehem, Christ is reborn in the Bethlehems of our homes and daily lives. Take time, slow down, be still, be awake to the Divine Mystery that looks so common and so ordinary yet is wondrously present.” – Edward Hays, A Pilgrims Almanac
Advent is a season of waiting and preparation for the Nativity of Christ – the word “advent” is the translation of the Latin word “adventus” meaning “coming” and the Greek word “parousia” which refers to the Second Coming of Christ.
Why Celebrate Advent?
I confess that I don’t remember celebrating the season of Advent as a child in a Protestant Christian home. It wasn’t until I started having my own children that I began to be enlightened to the greater purpose of this season. Children know something of anticipation that we adults have left behind long ago, it seems.
By the time Thanksgiving rolls around, their eyes begin to shine with joy and anticipation. After watching this a second time around (with child #2), I had a “Aha!” moment – they should be anticipating Christmas every single day – I just needed to help them see why.
This is a season to make room for Christ to be born in our hearts.
Mary wasn’t planning on becoming pregnant. But her response to this frightening, unexpected pregnancy is one of peaceful, trusting surrender: “Behold, the handmaid of The Lord; let it be unto me according to Thy Word.”
This is a time to direct our passions and longings towards Christ and not towards the stuff this earth can offer. It’s not about the cookies, music, presents, holiday parties, or even the relatives who come to visit (although these are all fun and festive bonuses!)
25 Acts of Kindness
This is a season to ponder God’s great gift to us – that of His only Son – and then stretch ourselves and increase the generosity of our own hearts.
It is humbling to meditate on how God the Father gave His best, His only Son to us – for us. As we contemplate how Christ humbled Himself to be wrapped in human flesh, born to die that we might be reunited with the Father, our hearts overflow with gratitude which we long to pour into the lives of friends, neighbors, and even strangers.
This is a point that we will choose to linger on this year as a family. A friend of mine found this blog post with an idea to do 25 Random Acts of Kindness – one act of kindness each day – during the season of Advent. Her family did this last year and had some pretty amazing experiences and opportunities to spread the love of Christ as a result.
I wasn’t so much into the brown bag idea, so I checked Pinterest out and found this great idea. I love that this calendar is one that we painted together and can keep and re-use for years to come.
I’m placing two different slips of paper in each day’s box. One will include a passage of Scripture for reflection and prayer (I’m choosing this year to focus on prophesies about Christ in the Old Testament and their fulfillment in the New Testament).
The other will include an “act of kindness” that we will accomplish as a family. While I liked many of the random acts suggested by the blog I referenced, I plan to tailor ours to center on the people, neighborhood, community, and opportunities that surround our lives specifically.
I pray that with each act of kindness completed, we will grow in our understanding that it truly is more blessed to give than to receive – and that Christmas is all about what Christ has given us (Himself) and what He has placed in our hands and hearts to give to others.
Do you celebrate Advent? If so, what are some of your favorite ways to celebrate? I would love to hear from you!