As people are rushing around during the holiday season, we are trying to relax and reflect on the reason for the season, Jesus! You may celebrate advent with your family, you may do an advent calendar with the little chocolate filled boxes, or you may never have heard of advent. Either way, I want to share with you how we celebrate advent and get ready for Christmas.
The word advent comes from the Greek word Adventus which means arrival or coming. At the first, “Christmas”, the Hebrews waited and looked forward to the arrival of a savior. Advent counts down the four weeks leading up to Christmas and helps us refocus our lives around Christ. It reminds us what this season is all about, that Jesus came to this earth as a baby and he will one day come again.
In an effort to teach our children the true meaning of Christmas (it’s not about presents and Santa), we started this tradition for advent. I have seen many similar versions on the internet and am encouraged that so many families keep Jesus as their main focus during this season. It’s hard with all the toy advertisements, Santa displays, and wish lists for kids to understand that Christmas is not about them. We want our kids to understand that Christmas is about Jesus and living the way he did on Earth. With that said, we still have fun, a lot of fun. Many of the activities in our advent calendar are for that purpose entirely. Jesus wants us to celebrate with joy and that is what we do.
Throughout the year, as I read the Bible, I write down versus that will be a good fit for advent. Then I choose 25 versus and activities that we can do as a family. I write them down on cards and place them in numbered envelopes that we can open each day. Some of the versus remain the same from year to year and some new ones appear. We try to memorize the verse and complete the activity each day from December 1st until Christmas.
Here is the list of versus and activities for this years advent calendar. Feel free to use them for your own advent celebration at home!
1. Set up the Nativity– And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” Today in the town of David a savior has been born to you. You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger. Luke 2:8-12
2. Make a list of all of our blessings– Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17
3. Make Christmas ornaments– There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit delivers them. 1Corinthians 12:4
4. Put the star on top of the tree– After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. Matthew 2:9
5. Make cards and mail them to people you love– A new command I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. John 13:34
6. Bless a foster child or family– The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Matthew 9:37
7. Make a meal for someone– That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil-this is the gift of God. Ecclesiastes 3:13
8. Make cards and gifts to take to the Children’s Hospital– Jesus said, “Let the children come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14
9. Play games together– I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. Ecclesiastes 3:12
10. Invite someone over for dinner– Jesus said, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'” Matthew 4:4
11. Do something nice for a stranger– In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your father in heaven. Matthew 5:16
12. Drink hot chocolate and Relax– The lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Exodus 33:14
13. Do a chore for someone in the family– Just as the son of man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. Matthew 20:28
14. Make snack packs for the homeless– Let them do good, that they may be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share. 1 Timothy 6:18
15. Take a treat to teachers at a local school– The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is trained will be like the teacher. Luke 6:40
16. Drive around and look at Christmas lights– Your word is a lamp to my feet, a light on my path. Psalms 119:105
17. Make gingerbread houses– You are the Lightroom the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Matthew 5:14
18. Go through toys, books, and other belongings, to donate to others– So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or out of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. 11 Corinthians 9:7
19. Donate food and clothing– And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. 1 Timothy 6:8
20. Make snow ice cream (or regular ice cream if there isn’t any snow)– His appearance was like lightni, and his clothes were white as snow. Matthew 28:3
21. Put candy canes on every car in a parking lot– This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalms 118:24
22. Deliver treats to neighbors– You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Matthew 22:39
23. Watch a Christmas movie– He will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. Matthew 1:21
24. Decorate cookies for Jesus’ birthday– For there is born you this day in the city of David a savior, who is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:11
25. Christmas Morning, give gifts to one another– When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Matthew 2:10-11