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Focusing our Families on Christ at Advent

November 29 2017
November 29 2017

By

Growing up, we didn’t really discuss the term “Advent.” We talked more generically about the “Christmas season.” As I grew into adulthood and eventually became a parent, I found the observance of Advent helpful in reframing my thoughts and the celebrations of my own family. Advent spans the four Sundays leading up to Christmas. The focus of the season is on both preparing to celebrate the birth of Jesus and anticipating the return of Christ.

The season of Advent is undeniably marked by a spirit of expectation, of anticipation, of preparation, and of longing. I am already hearing my own children getting excited about the lights, music, and festive decorations. But it is above all a season of hope. This is comforting when we look at the broken world around us. With headlines blaring gloom and doom—from natural disasters to horrific crimes—it would be easy for us to either despair or become desensitized to such news. However, that is where this season intersects our brokenness and reminds us of the hope we have in Christ. We can use this season to talk to our children about the hope we have in Christ. Advent celebrates a truth about God, the revelation of God in Christ, through whom all of creation might be reconciled to God.

As parents, we have the joy of ushering our children into this celebratory season. While it is easy to get caught up in the festivities, it can sometimes be challenging to quiet our hearts and ready ourselves for the true celebration. Coming together as a family for The Redeemer Book Table is stocked with wonderful resources for children and families at Advent! morning or evening traditions is a helpful way to keep a steady rhythm amidst the busy season (see last year’s post on ideas for your family). Devotional readings, prayer, and singing Christmas hymns are other ways to actively observe the waiting spirit of Advent as a family.

To keep the focus of our family on the heart of Advent, it is important to point children back to Christ in our conversations about Christmas. The Christmas season is rich with symbolism, and the sights and sounds of the season offer many opportunities to do this.

  • When we are discussing our excitement about Jesus’ birth, we can ask our children “Why is that exciting?” This gives them a chance to connect the celebration of Christ’s coming with his finished work for us on the cross.
  • When we talk about giving and receiving of presents, we can remind our children that we give gifts to imitate God’s great gift to us — His sending Jesus to be born and die on the cross for our sins.
  • As we decorate with Christmas lights and see light displays in our neighborhoods, we can remind our children that all these lights point to the Light of the World. Star-shaped cookies and ornaments remind us of the Star of Bethlehem that led the Wise Men to Jesus.

Christ’s coming down to earth in human form is a joyous occasion indeed. Through the eyes of our children, and their unbridled joy during Advent, we can look with anticipation at what God is doing and what he is going to do at his second coming.  In this way, our prayer can truly be:

Oh come, oh come Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel

That mourns in lowly exile here, until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, oh Israel!


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