Advent 2015

advent-canada

This year Advent begins on Sunday, November 29 and ends on Christmas Eve. We’ll be preparing for Advent in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving. You might choose to make an advent wreath craft during Thanksgiving, or incorporate your Advent wreath into you Thanksgiving centerpiece. What a beautiful way to celebrate our thankfulness for the birth of our Savior.

I’ll be making my own Advent displays for the first time and I’ll post some photos of how they turn out. I’m using small galvanized tin pails, herbs, succulents, and candles. I wanted to have an Advent display that was a feast for the senses. I encourage you to design your own Advent display with some of your favorite things.

Each week between now and Advent I will share some celebration ideas:

Advent note 1: incorporate Advent preparation into your Thanksgiving celebration.

If you have little ones joining you for Thanksgiving invite them make their own Advent display (wreath) using flameless (battery operated) candles.This is a great way to involve young ones in the Advent celebration as they “light” the candles in their own Advent display each week.  Some items that you might consider sourcing for this project:

  • unbreakable cake plate, platter, pie tin
  • pink and purple flameless candles (traditional colors of the Advent candles, but you can use silver, gold, or any color you want to)
  • unbreakable votive holders for the flameless candles
  • evergreen garland, pine cones etc…
  • Craft glue/tack- I suggest using some glue or craft tack to hold the candles/items in place on the cake plate/platter once the little hands have put everything where they want it to be; that way it won’t all slide off when the cake plate is moved.

Coming up in next week’s Advent note I will give you the craft ideas for a “make your own nativity”. Each week during Advent you and/or your child make certain parts of the nativity and at the conclusion of Advent you will lay Jesus in the manger.

Advent 2015 Series

Week 1: Hope

Advent week 1

This is the first week of Advent. Light the first Advent candle each night this week as you focus on your faith and hope in God. The Advent period, leading up to Jesus’ birth, celebrates the time of waiting for His arrival.

Luke 1:37 says “For nothing will be impossible with God.” Faith is what determines how you react to the known and the unknown. It is your belief that God is in control, that you are walking with Him on the path that He designed for you, and that nothing surprises Him. This week you’ll be lighting the first purple candle in the advent display.

Faith is knowing that you have divine appointments along the path, and even delays and waiting are part of His plan. How good are you at waiting? For most of us it is a weak point. We live in an instant gratification society- we don’t want to wait for anything. If the line at Starbucks is too long we tap our foot and silently wonder why the folks in front of us can’t rattle off their order like we can. When traffic holds us up we wonder what in the world is wrong with the other drivers as we silently fume that our time table is now delayed. And this time of year, with holiday shoppers out in mass, waiting is a foregone conclusion.

The Bible says something very important about waiting, though. Psalm 62 tells us to wait quietly before God as He renews our hope. The Bible also says that strength will rise when we wait upon the Lord.

But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31)

Time is a precious God-given resource. Time is even more valuable than money because we can always make more money, but we can’t make more time. 2 Corinthians 9:3 tells us that God loves a cheerful giver. We should cheerfully tithe both our money and our time. We tithe our time by waiting on Him. My acronym for WAIT:

We Always Invest Time

We always invest time when we make the decision to wait on God’s perfect timing for His plan. That investment yields such a dividend! The renewal of hope, the ability to mount up with wings like eagles, and the strength we need to persevere.

During this first week of Advent welcome delays, lines, and traffic snarls as a divine opportunity to practice your patience and celebrate opportunities to wait. Use the time that you spend waiting to pray, give thanks, connect with someone, or simply rest your spirit for a few minutes as He renews your strength. Consider waiting a gift, an opportunity to take a breath and center yourself, and an opportunity to tithe your time. The unexpected time that you spend waiting is a hidden chance to connect with God, to pray for those around you, and to listen for His small still voice.

As you light the first advent candle this week acknowledge the experiences that you had while you waited. You can do this each day, and encourage family members to share their experiences. There are hidden blessings in these experiences and this new perspective will give you the ability to relish them.

Meditate on these verses this week. Read a verse each night as you light the Advent candle. Print the verses out and keep them with you to meditate on when an opportunity to wait arises.

The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.” (Lamentations 3:25)

Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and our shield.” (Psalm 33:20)

Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! (Psalm 27:14)

Week 2: Peace

week 2 peace

During this second week of Advent focus on the Peace that God promises and welcome it into every area of your life. This week light the first and second candles of the Advent display. Reflect on your faith (week 1) and God’s Peace (week 2).

Our circumstances do not effect God’s Peace. He is never surprised by what happens in our lives. He was with us before our birth, each step of our lives, and after we die. He promises that His Peace is with us for all of it.

Take time to recognize areas of your life that are plagued with anxiety and pray that God would remove that anxiety and replace it with His Peace. There is no room for anxiety or fear in your life because you cannot simultaneously trust God and fear anything. When you feel fear or anxiety creeping in shut it down with a prayer for the Peace that God has promised.

If you are not feeling peaceful I encourage you to share that with God in prayer and ask that He remove the anxiety and worry that fills your mind and heart and replace it with His Peace. I encourage you to open yourself up to opportunities to trade a stressful situation with a peaceful one. That may mean removing a few festivities from the calendar and trading them for quiet time with God in His Word. Sometimes we get so busy that Christmas whizzes by and we never made it to the manger. This Christmas be sure to schedule adequate time at the manger worshiping Jesus.

Meditate on these three verses this week. Print the verses out and keep them with you to meditate on when an opportunity to shut down anxiety arises.

You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” (Isaiah 26:3)

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27)

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

Week 3: Joy

Advent Joy

 Joy to the world, the Lord has come! The focus of the third week of Advent is Joy.  We have Joy because we know Him and trust Him.

The verses below explain the many ways that God brings joy. The shepherds experienced God’s Joy when they saw the star that would lead them to the manger. We share that same Joy because we have been to the manger- we know Him! We experience God’s Joy after clinging to faith to endure suffering. We experience God’s Joy when we trust in Him.

This week notice the experiences that bring your Joy and thank God for them each time they happen. That Joy that we feel in this season, with family, celebration and twinkling lights is His Joy, and it is a gift that we receive from Him.

If you are having trouble finding Joy in the season you are not alone. I encourage you to pray about this and to ask God to show you special Joy this season. Open yourself up to receiving that gift from Him and look for opportunities to be blessed and to bless others who may also be struggling. Consider attending a Christmas play or musical at church, volunteer to serve others, sit outside and look up at the stars and marvel in His creation. Don’t feel compelled to measure your experience to a greeting card- we are all her for His purpose and we are all on different paths, but his Joy is a gift that He lavishes on all of us- allow yourself the opportunity to receive that Joy.

Meditate on these verses this week. Print them out and consider spending time each day meditating on hope, peace, and joy.

When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. (Matthew 2:10)

Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.  (Psalm 30:5)

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,  for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:8-9)

Week 4: Love

Advent week 4

God loves you. He loved you before you were born, will love you each day of your life, and will love you as He welcomes you home afterward. He adores you- not because of anything that you have done, or haven’t done, but because you are His. We are His prodigals!

During this fourth week of Advent we celebrate His Love. As you light the four candles meditate on these verses. We are so unworthy yet He lavishes the gift of His love on us every day of our lives, and nothing separates us from His love (Romans 8:31-39).

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant. (1 Corinthians 13:4)

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13)

Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. (1 John 4:8)

Merry Christmas and blessings of hope, peace, joy, and love!

To read more about celebrating Advent click here

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