As parents, we know how our lives radically changed after welcoming a child into our homes and hearts. We are softer and more tender, and we see life with a new perspective. With every pregnancy, I am overwhelmed that God would be so gracious to allow me, in all my unworthiness, to even bear children, much less raise them. When I was pregnant with our first baby boy, I reflected often on how Mary must have felt, and it is something my mind cannot comprehend. Mary, in her humble state, was not just bearing a child—she was bearing the Savior of the world! It is unfathomable, yet it is the story of God’s grace to all of us. One baby who was both God and man came to change everything, and that He is coming again. That is why my family celebrates Advent, and that is why we celebrate every moment of our lives in Christ.
“Advent” means arrival or coming, and as an early church tradition, it marks the time Christians focus our hearts and minds on celebrating the first coming of Christ and look with eager expectation to His second coming. Both events are paramount in the life of a believer, and both deserve our attention and affection. We adore the baby Jesus and the life He sacrificed on behalf of our sins, and we affirm His nearness while we await His soon return. Though the period of Advent is not observed by all believers, we can look at it with new eyes, just as we look at those little eyes in our homes with new perspective.
Advent wreaths look many different ways, but the most commonly used wreath is one of evergreen leaves with four candles on the wreath and sometimes one more placed in the center. The evergreen wreath symbolizes our new life in Christ. The wreath is circular, because God is the Alpha and Omega, and the giver of eternal life; the crown of thorns which was placed on Jesus’ head was also circular. All of these truths can be talked about with your children if you look at the Advent wreath as a teaching tool. The four candles on the wreath have unique meanings and are lit consecutively over the four Sundays leading up to Christmas Eve. It is said that each week of Advent, marked by the lighting of another candle on the wreath, represents one thousand years, the total being four thousand years, marking the period of time from Adam and Eve in the garden until the birth of our Savior Jesus in Bethlehem. The candles themselves can be any color—many homes use all white, but traditionally there are three purple candles and one pink—and they mark everything from Israel looking forward with expectation and hope of the Messiah, to believers looking forward to the second coming of the Jesus, to remembering the sacrifice He paid and our desperate need of forgiveness, to the ultimate joy found in accepting Him into our hearts. When celebrating Advent, we celebrate many things, but the primary focus is the richness of who Christ is and the incredible gift of God in the flesh.
Children and adults thrive on traditions, and since Christmas has become a time of candy canes, excessive spending, and being good enough that Santa Claus will give us gifts, we need to check our hearts. Where are we storing up our treasures, and what are we most eagerly anticipating during these precious weeks? If you are looking for ways to incorporate truth and keep the birth of Jesus as the central theme this season, you may want to consider incorporating the celebration of Advent in your home. While I don’t think every family should begin traditions they don’t feel led to, I do think Christians should be open to the Holy Spirit speaking to them and craving their attention during this beautiful and busy season. So if an elf is taking up more space in your home and heart than the birth and soon return of the Savior, then an Advent wreath could be the perfect tool to place in your home and get the dialogue back on track. Those little eyes and ears are excited to celebrate Christmas—let’s just make certain they are excited to celebrate Christ.
If you are interested in learning more about Advent and the ways you can begin using a wreath, there are wonderful resources available and we will include links for you to read more. Join our closed Facebook page HERE today and start sharing with your children the most wonderful gift that doesn’t require being good enough.
Celebrating the Light of the World,