Christmas is one of our favorite times of the year. The twinkling lights, brightly colored Christmas ornaments, holiday music, Christmas programs, and excitement over extra family time make this season extra special. The weeks leading up to Christmas day are almost as exciting as the official holiday itself. In the midst of all of the holiday fun activities, as a family, we want to keep our focus on the true reason for Christmas celebration: the coming and future second coming of Jesus. One way to do this is to celebrate the days leading up to Christmas with an Advent study.
This season of life is especially busy, so even Countdown to Christmas gets its own alert on our Family Google Calendar. 🙂
In case the term “Advent” is new for you, this is a season of preparing our hearts to remember the first time Jesus came to Earth as a baby and look forward in anticipation for when He will one day come again to take us to Heaven. This year with all of our Christmas decorations, nativities, and countdown calendar in storage, I felt uncertain about how to make this year’s Advent just as meaningful as in previous years. I am not sure where our Advent calendars and nativities are precisely located, and it’s better to keep them safely packed away for the future when our new house is built. The more I thought about the real reason for Advent, I realized that although all of these “things” have brought us joy and prepared our hearts for Christmas, Advent is more about intentionally setting our hearts to celebrate Jesus. We don’t have to have all these “things” to make the Advent season memorable.
After weeks of brainstorming what this Advent season might look like, the Lord guided me to two resources that are a great fit for our family, and I want to share with you all in case it might be a blessing for your family, too!
Reading and Writing Out God’s Word:
1. One of my writing friends, @Tracie.Gunther.Nall created a Bible reading and “write the word” plan for November 27-December 31. She selected 1-2 verses for us to read each day and to intentionally take the time to pause and physically write out the words in the verse(s). You might ask “why should we write out God’s word?” The process of slowing down and taking the time to write out Bible verses allow’s God’s truths to move from our short term memory to our longer term memory. Writing God’s word has been especially helpful in this season of our life, so I knew that this was a new advent rhythm that I wanted to try out with our family.
I searched on Amazon for a new Christmas composition notebook for each of us, so that these journals could serve as a stone of remembrance for us for years to come. Each day these pages of journaling will represent how the Lord used each day’s verse(s) to remind us of the hope, joy, peace, love, and light of Jesus.
This is a great way to include children and teenagers of all ages into the process:
- For young children, instead of writing out the verses, they could draw pictures of what the verse(s) reminds them of. This could be a great opportunity to create a picture together with your children. Parents could write the passage at the top of the page and write a caption (1-2 sentences) below the picture, so that your family will remember what your little ones created in this season of their lives.
- For children who are beginning writers, they could focus on writing the word or phrase of each day’s verse(s) that they want to remember and draw a picture to go with their word or phrase.
- For older children, teens, or adults, they could use this as a time to learn how to create different hand lettering or calligraphy skills as they write out each day’s Bible verse(s). This could be a great moment to model for our children how they can use their artistic talents to bring glory to God. Our God is the ultimate Creator, so He loves when we use our God-given creativity to direct our hearts and others’ hearts to Him through our artwork.
*Note to the reader: our family Advent rhythm is to start our Countdown to Christmas on December 1st, because 25 days captures our family’s age range’s attention span a bit better. I am going to condense down the full plan for the kids to keep their momentum going, but I am going to do the complete plan on my own. I wanted to share this modification in case it might help with your family’s ages and stages, too.
Searching for the True Spirit of Christmas: The Holy Spirit
2. Our Pastor shared an insightful focus for Advent this year on Sunday. He encouraged us to remember the true spirit of Christmas-The Holy Spirit Himself. Usually during Advent, my focus has been directed more to God the Father and God the Son.
- Our Heavenly Father who sent His perfect son Jesus to save us from our sins and make right all that sin had taken away from us.
- Jesus, our perfect savior, who rescued, redeemed, and restored us to full relationship and fellowship with God the Father.
However, the incredible fact about the Trinity is that God the Holy Spirit is just as active in the Christmas story as God the Father and God the Son Jesus. As Pastor Josh led our church through the Christmas story in Matthew chapter 1 and Luke chapter 1, he traced the Holy Spirit’s active role in Jesus coming to the Earth. Not only was the Holy Spirit present during Advent, His presence is woven all throughout the scriptures. Pastor Josh encouraged us to notice the ways that the Holy Spirit brought through fruits of the Spirit all throughout the Christmas story.
The phrase “fruit of the Holy Spirit” is something talked a lot about in Christian communities, but sometimes we need to pause for a moment and consider what this phrase really means. The only way we can authentically demonstrate the “fruit of the Holy Spirit” is to be a follower of Jesus. When Jesus saves us from our sins, the Holy Spirit instantly lives inside us. He guides us to be more like Jesus through showing us what God’s word means and acts like a quiet voice that shapes our mindset into a heavenly mindset that thinks more like Jesus. The good character traits, otherwise known as “fruits,” are the ways the Holy Spirit changes us to be more like Jesus. The fruits of the Holy Spirit from Galatians 5:22-23 are: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.
So with these two focuses in mind: @Tracie.Gunther.Nall’s Bible daily reading and writing the word plan and Pastor Josh’s encouragement to trace the Holy Spirit throughout the Christmas story, our family is going on a biblical scavenger hunt to discover Advent in a new light. We would love to have you join us on this journey! All you need is your favorite Bible translation, @Tracie.Gunther.Nall’s daily reading plan, a notebook, your favorite writing utensils, and most importantly a heart eagerly asking the Holy Spirit to show you something new each day. So, if you are looking for a low-prep, but high impact way to intentionally prepare your heart for Christmas, we would love for you to join us!