Advent Week 1: Hope

Week 1 Hope

Advent sneaks up on me every single year, but especially this year because Thanksgiving was so late! I stuffed my face with turkey and pie and turn around and BAM! Advent is staring me in the face! Advent is my favorite season of the year. No, not the Christmas season, but ADVENT. Advent is the four Sundays prior to Christmas where we prepare our hearts for the coming birth of Christ.

The United Methodist Church (and other denominations) light candles on an Advent wreath each week prior to Christmas Eve and a white “Christ” candle in the middle on Christmas Eve. I know that not all traditions do an advent wreath, so I explain about the wreath and have some beautiful candle-lit pictures.
Celebrating Advent at Home: The Advent Wreath
The United Methodist Church puts out a Advent Worship at Home for families to light the candles and celebrate each week just as the church does, but I found myself needing to adjust it quite a bit for my family with such young kids. So I thought I would share my adaptation of the church’s home worship.

Advent Week 1: Hope

First Reader: This is the first Sunday in Advent. Today, we light one purple candle. This is the candle of hope. Advent is a time of waiting and hoping. We wait for the day when we celebrate again the birth of Jesus. We hope that everyone will come to know and worship God.

(Light the first purple candle)

Second Reader:  When we look at the first candle, we remember God’s promise.  God promised to send a someone to save the people. God fulfills his promises and takes care of his people. God brings peace and all of this gives us hope. Again we wait excitedly for the birth of baby Jesus.

Sing: Oh Come Let us Adore Him
Matt Redman- Oh Come Let us Adore Him (video with lyrics from youtube)

Read Jeremiah 33:14-16
The time is coming, declares the Lord, when I will fulfill my gracious promise with the people of Israel and Judah. 15 In those days and at that time, I will raise up a righteous branch from David’s line, who will do what is just and right in the land. 16 In those days, Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this is what he will be called: The Lord Is Our Righteousness.

Prayer: Dear God: Thank you for your son, Jesus. Thank you for the words of Jeremiah, the prophet, that remind us that you are the source of our hope. Help us to live each day with hope and to share hope with everyone around us. AMEN.

Most of this comes straight from the Advent Home Worship. I re-worded and re-wrote a few things so that my smaller kids could understand it better. I also left out the discussion and shortened a few other parts. Definitely check out the one made by the United Methodist Church!
Advent Worship at Home

Don’t feel bad if you don’t get to this on Sundays. Just try and do it sometime during that week. My parents did this with us every year growing up and it is one of my most powerful memories. I hope that these help you and your family enjoy the Advent season together and keep Christ in the center!

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Celebrating Advent at Home: Advent Calendar & Jesus Tree

Advent Calendar and Jesus Tree

Last year we hung the stockings on one long string instead of the frame.

Last year we hung the stockings on one long string instead of the frame.

In addition to our weekly tradition of lighting the Advent Wreath, my husband and I wanted to do something small with the kids each day to celebrate Advent and again keep the focus on Jesus.  If you want to know more about Advent, check out my Advent vs Christmas post.

Many people do an “Advent” calendar where each day leading up to Christmas you open the door/pocket/stocking and there is a small gift inside. I would probably rename these Christmas calendars because although lots of families enjoy doing these, those calendars do not have anything to do with Advent.  Advent is for preparing for Christ not Christmas. So I took that idea and turned it into a true Advent tradition for our family. I picked 24 Scriptures and 24 names for Jesus. One for each day in December leading up to Christmas. Each day we will read a part of Jesus’ story from the bible and put an ornament on our “Jesus Tree” that has a name for Jesus. The scriptures range from prophecies about the coming of Jesus, to the preparing a way for Jesus, and Jesus’ birth.

How we do our Advent Calendar

Our advent calendar with 24 mini stockings with scriptures and ornaments inside

Our advent calendar with 24 mini stockings with scriptures and ornaments inside

I made the Advent calendar in the picture with small stockings hung on small rope. On each stocking I painted a number for the corresponding day of December leading up to Christmas. Inside each stocking is a printed card with the scripture for the day and a small ornament with a name of Jesus.

Each ornament has a different name for Jesus. This one is God with Us.

Each ornament has a different name for Jesus. This one is God with Us.

Every night after PJ’s are put on and teeth are brushed, we get together and do our Advent Calendar. The kids pull out the ornament with a name of Jesus and the card with the scripture on it out of the stocking that corresponds to that day. We sit down together as a family and Daddy reads the scripture and then we tell them what ornament says. Then they hang the ornament on our Jesus Tree.

Our small Jesus tree ready for ornaments.

Our small Jesus tree ready for ornaments.

Here are the scriptures we are using for each night and the name for Jesus:
                             December 1:             Isaiah 7: 13-15;              Immanuel
                             December 2:             Isaiah 9: 6-7;                 Prince of Peace
                             December 3:             Isaiah 11: 1-5;                Wonderful Counselor
                             December 4:             Isaiah 11: 6-10;              Lion of Judah
                             December 5:             Jeremiah 33: 14-16;         Savior
                             December 6:             Micah 5: 2-5;                Good Shepherd
                             December 7:             Luke 1: 11-17;                The Way
                             December 8:             Luke 1: 21-25;               Lord
                             December 9:             Luke 1: 26-38;               Jesus
                             December 10:           Matthew 1: 18-21;          Messiah
                             December 11:           Matthew 1: 22-26;          Holy One
                             December 12:           Luke 1: 39-45;                Son of God
                             December 13:           Luke 1: 46-56;                Mighty One
                             December 14:           Luke 2: 1-5;                   Christ
                             December 15:           Luke 2: 6-7;                   Healer
                             December 16:           Luke 2: 8-12;                 Anointed One
                             December 17:           Luke 2: 13-14;                Light of the World
                             December 18:           Luke 2: 15-18;               Lamb of God
                             December 19:           Luke 2: 19-20;               Redeemer
                             December 20:           Matthew 2: 1-2;            God With Us
                             December 21:           Matthew 2: 3-6;            King of Kings
                             December 22:           Matthew 2: 7-8;            Rabbi
                             December 23:           Matthew 2: 9-12;           Everlasting Father
                             December 24:           John 1:14                     The Word
I found many different lists of scriptures online and in print and adapted the list of scriptures to what I thought was the most important. I wanted to make sure that the scriptures to cover the prophecies, the preparation of Jesus’ birth and Jesus’ birth, but did not want the scriptures to be too long each day. So I read the all the verses, shortened some and lengthened others. The list that I have compiled is, for the most part, in chronological order. Most of the names for Jesus relate to the verses read for that day, but some do not, but all are names used for Jesus.
I printed and laminated tags with each day's scripture.

I printed and laminated tags with each day’s scripture.

It is okay not to have an Advent calendar or a Jesus tree. If all you do is sit down as a family each night and read the verses and learn the name for Jesus that day, I think that is wonderful! I hope you join us in celebrating Advent with a little piece of the Christmas story and a little bit more of Jesus each day!

God Bless
Happy Advent
and Merry Christmas,

Katie <><

Check out my related posts!
Celebrating Christmas at Home: Advent Wreath
Advent vs Christmas

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Celebrating Advent at Home: Advent Wreath

Our advent wreath all lit up on Christmas Eve last year.

Our advent wreath all lit up on Christmas Eve last year.

Although the true origin of the advent wreath is not known, we do know that the advent wreath started being used in the Middle Ages by the Catholics. Each part of the wreath has a significant and symbolic meaning. The four candles around the outside represent the four weeks before Christmas. Lighting the candles each Sunday and participating in the traditions of the Advent wreath are a wonderful way to help prepare our hearts and our families for Christmas, the coming of Christ.

If you want more history on the Advent Wreath, the Catholic church explains the history here.

The tradition of the Advent Wreath is commonly done at church, during the services on the four Sundays prior to Christmas to help celebrate the season of advent and prepare us for the coming of Christmas, but as I was growing up we did it at home as well. I loved it growing up as it kept us centered and made us closer during this season. The wreath has three purple candles and a pink candle around the outside and a white candle in the middle. Each Sunday night we light the candle for that week (and any candles for the weeks prior), read a scripture, sing a song or two and then have a small discussion. On Christmas Eve, we light all the candles and the white Christ candle in the middle. This is done at the Christmas Eve service at church and then at home right before we went to bed.

Our advent wreath with 3 purple and one pink candle surrounding the white Christ candle in the middle

Our advent wreath with 3 purple and one pink candle surrounding the white Christ candle in the middle

Our Advent Wreath at Home
Week 1: Purple candle of Hope
Week 2: Purple candle of Love
Week 3: Pink candle of Joy (some traditions have 4 purple)
Week 4: Purple candle of Peace
Christmas Eve: White Christ candle
Here is another source from the United Methodist Church that talks about the candles on the wreath. What do the candles in the advent wreath mean?

If you are interested in more about each week, or a guide to follow for each week, the United Methodist Church and the Presbyterian Church have good family devotions for each week:
Advent Home Worship (United Methodist)
Lighting of the Advent Wreath(Presbyterian)

I really believe it’s never too young to do things like this even if your kids don’t understand everything. If their favorite thing to do is blow the candles out each Sunday night when you get done its ok. They are soaking in a lot more than you think they are! I know because I am keeping my parents’ tradition of doing the advent wreath at home as a family. The goal for my husband and I is to keep our family grounded and centered on Jesus’ birth and the grand importance of it. I want my children to be thankful for the gift of Jesus Christ first.

Here is a short video talking about the advent wreath from a series called Chuck Knows Church. It’s short and kinda corny, but is a fun, simple video that explains all the candles and the wreath. Check it out! Chuck Knows Church- Advent Wreath

Check out the other posts in my Celebrating Advent at Home series:
Advent vs Christmas
Advent Calendar and Jesus Tree

God Bless,
Happy Advent,
and Merry Christmas,

Katie <><
katie@gracefaithdirt.com
gracefaithdirt.com

**I bought the octagon mirror, purple/pink/clear candle holders and votive candles for under $20 at Hobby Lobby! It was super easy to assemble/disassemble and is a beautiful decoration to leave out during the Advent/Christmas season!

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Advent vs Christmas

Our advent wreath lit up for the first week

Our advent wreath lit up for the first week

I will just be honest. I am not a fan of Christmas. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Christmas carols and decorating the house with my family, but there is something about Christmas time that makes me irritable…the “I want! I want! I want!” consumerism. It bothered me as a little kid (just ask my parents) and bugs me even more now that I am grown up with kids of my own. I know I want Christmas to be different than the typical getting and giving gifts and Santa and all of that (We will save Santa for another post). So my husband and I decided to emphasize the season of Advent rather than the Christmas season. No, Advent is not about opening a box/stocking/pocket from an advent calendar and getting a gift EVERY DAY until Christmas. That is NOT what Advent is!

I am United Methodist, but many denominations have similar traditions. Even if your denomination doesn’t have Advent traditions, it is never too late to start them as a family.

What is Advent? 
Advent is the four weeks prior to Christmas starting on the fourth Sunday before Christmas. Advent is time of preparation of the coming of Jesus, thus Advent comes from the Latin word adventus meaning “coming”.  Advent was started in fourth century France and the number of weeks of preparation varied from 3 to 4 to 6 weeks before Christmas, but the tradition now stands at four weeks. Advent is also the start of the liturgical (church) calendar. Other seasons include Christmas (yes, this is a separate season), Epiphany, and later Lent and Easter. As a church and as individual Christians we prepare ourselves by reading the Scriptures that foretell Jesus’ coming, prepare the for Jesus to be born, and Jesus’ birth story. We also prepare by centering ourselves around Jesus and not around ourselves.

Find our more about the history and meaning of Advent:

Our Family Advent Traditions:

Advent Calendar & Jesus Tree
This is a new tradition that we started this year. I made this Advent calendar with mini stockings and small clear ornaments. Each stocking has a scripture and an ornament. 24 Scriptures and 24 names for Jesus written on an ornament. One for each day in December leading up to Christmas.

Our advent calendar with 24 mini stockings with scriptures and ornaments inside

Our advent calendar with 24 mini stockings with scriptures and ornaments inside

Each day we will read a part of Jesus’ story from the bible and put an ornament on our “Advent Tree” that has a name for Jesus. The scriptures range from prophecies about the coming of Jesus, to the preparing a way for Jesus and Jesus’ birth.

Our small Jesus tree ready for ornaments.

Our small Jesus tree ready for ornaments.

If you want the scriptures and names of Jesus I used, check out: Celebrating Advent at Home: Advent Calendar and Jesus Tree.

Advent Wreath
The wreath has three purple candles and a pink candle around the outside and a white candle in the middle. Each Sunday night we light the candle for that week, read a scripture, sing a song or two and then have a small discussion. On Christmas Eve, we light all the candles and the white Christ candle in the middle. This is done at the Christmas Eve service at church and then at home right before we went to bed.

Our advent wreath with 3 purple and one pink candle surrounding the white Christ candle in the middle

Our advent wreath with 3 purple and one pink candle surrounding the white Christ candle in the middle

Some people go crazy about Christmas covering their house with decorations (don’t get me wrong I do LOVE Christmas decorations), doing the elf on the shelf and all of that (and I totally have no problems with that at all), but I consider myself an Advent addict! (I am considering starting a new hashtag trend with #adventaddict) love the preparation of the coming of Jesus, all the symbolism in the candles, colors and what-not, and the faith-building and togetherness it creates with my family!

God Bless you and your family this time of year and always!Find out about our Advent and Christmas family traditions in my Celebrating Advent at Home series:
Advent Calendar and Jesus Tree
Advent Wreath

Katie <><

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