I won't be creating a wreath or lighting individual candles on a dedicated display this year as Christmas arrives, but I will be intentionally slowing down and remembering what this season of anticipation is all about. I'm focusing on the meaning of the season more than the traditions.
Since I didn't grow up observing the tradition of Advent, I enjoy learning a little bit more about it each year. I even have my sights set on making or getting some sort of an Advent calendar next year!
For this year, I'm going to focus on making time to sit with Jesus, talking to Him, praying to be more like Him, and committing all of my life to Him.
[In case you missed it, this is the second post in a series about Advent; you can catch up on the first post in the series here.]
KEEPING THE FIRST THING THE FIRST THING
Maintaining an Advent heart doesn't mean being a Grinch about cultural Christmas things just because they don't celebrate Christ. It just means that you keep the real meaning of the season top of mind.
That will look differently for each person. For me, it means still baking Christmas cookies, but not every weekend.
Of course, it means going to my family's Christmas get-togethers on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
It also means serving with my family at Feed My Starving Children on a Saturday during the Christmas season as a means of giving back.
It means watching Christmas movies because I love them. They're full of magic, love, reconciliations, happy endings, and laughter. But the second they become anything less than enjoyable, I switch to something else. I watch them because I want to, not because I'm supposed to.
OBSERVING THE HOLIDAY WITH GRACE
Observing Advent also doesn't mean being so hung-up on the traditional ways of celebrating (or any one particular way of celebrating, traditional or not) that the underlying meaning comes in second place.
No matter how we celebrate, let us not forget that the point of Advent is to reflect and prepare for the coming of Christ. It's not ultimately about the candles, wreaths, or calendars. It's about our hearts and Jesus Christ.
There is no single right way to observe Advent, so may we all extend grace to others who celebrate it differently than we do and be open to learning and adapting our traditions as we grow.
Stay tuned for the rest of the series, where I'll dig deeper into Advent and what it looks like to have an advent heart!
Do you have any Advent traditions that you observe? I'd love to hear from you in the comments!
"Why Do Christians Celebrate Advent?: Prepare for the Coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas" by Mary Fairchild, ThoughtCo.
"What Is the Advent Wreath?: Learn the Symbols and Customs of the Advent Wreath" by Mary Fairchild, ThoughtCo.
"The Tradition of Advent" whychristmas.com
"What is Advent? An Introduction to Advent" by Mark D. Roberts, patheos.com