The best way of preparing yourself for Christ’s coming is to pray, re-enforce your connection with God. Spend some time each day praying to and listening to (meditating) God. Start simply, talk to God about your day, your hopes, your dreams, what you feel good about, what you feel guilty about – anything, everything. Then after you pray, meditate. Mediation is not blanking your mind. Focus on God, not on nothing. It is listening to God. Praying is talking; meditation is listening.
If you feel like you need some guidance on how to do this or would like to use this time more intentionally you might wish to try the series of posts Praying by Moonlight or Falling in Love with God.
What is an Advent Wreath? Advent wreaths are four candles set in a round holder, representing the never ending, never beginning symbol of God. Luckily, they are easy and fun to make. Now a days, most of the work is done for you. You can get a wire candle holder, sometimes it is called an advent wreath by itself. It will come in a circle with four candle holders on it. Then you get evergreen branches, either real, artificial or tie branches to the candle holder with twine. The evergreen, like the Christmas tree signifies that God is always with us. His love for us is ever living. Then you can decorate it like a Christmas tree, but since it’s Advent and not Christmas (yet!) try to stick with more pinks and purples. Pink is for joy and purple for spirituality. The decorations are to signify all the spiritual gifts and beauty. Once you’ve finished, put in your candles, three purple and one pink. Bless the wreath.
“May God bless this wreath to remind us of Him who loves us all and helps us to always walk in the path of light. May God bless all who use this wreath in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.”
You light one every Sunday from the beginning of Advent until Christmas.
The first purple candle represents hope. For this first week fill yourself with the hope of God’s many promises to us (everlasting life, love, peace, and more). We are filled with hope because God is faithful to us.
“God we thank you for giving us hope even in the darkest times. As we light this candle we remind ourselves that we live in the light of Your Hope. Amen.”
On the second week you light the first two candles, both purple. The second purple candle represents love. For this week fill yourself with the love of God, for God is love. Make a special effort to love those people who are sometimes especially hard to love.
“God we thank you for your love especially for those times when we don’t even feel it. As we light this candle we remind ourselves that we live in the light of Your Love. Amen.”
On the third week you light the first two purple candles and the pink candle. The third candle is the pink one and it represents joy. For this week fill yourself with the joy of God. The Father sent his Son for us. The Son destroyed death. The Holy Spirit fills us with life. Live life joyfully! Help those who are having a difficult time finding their joy.
“God we thank you for giving us joy, may we feel it when we need it most. As we light this candle we remind ourselves that we live in the light of Your Joy. Amen.”
The fourth week light all of the candles. The last purple candle represents peace. For this week fill yourself with the peace of God. Slow down during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. Spend time in meditation, just sitting still and listening to God.
“God we thank you for your peace, let it fill us for the rest of our lives. As we light this candle we remind ourselves that we live in the light of Your Hope, Your Love, Your Joy and Your Peace. Amen.”
Set an Extra place at the Table
As you set the table for dinner, it is nice to have a reminder that Christ is coming again. So like Passover set an extra place it will serve as a reminder that you are waiting for Him and are (hopefully) prepared. If you wish to make a teaching craft time make or have your children make a placemat for Jesus. Don’t set food on the plate. One it is a waste of food, and two you can fill it when He gets here.
Make Gingerbread Houses
Gingerbread, in some forms known as Lebkuchen or Life Cake, originally invented by German monks in the 13th century, is a perfect treat for Advent. It has honey, long thought to be a gift from God because of its healing properties, golden (holy) color, and its represents (because of bees who hibernate for three months as Christ was in the tomb for three days) the immortality of the soul. The spices, especially cinnamon, are used in the Bible to represent inner truth and goodness. And the almonds, because of their shape represent the wakeful eye. Remember we don’t know the hour or the day. You can make houses, or cookies or even cake! The recipe is in the “Advent Recipes” post.
Feed the Animals
Giving food to the animals is a wonderful way to start this Holy Day off right. Since God has provided for us in this harvest, we should share it with the others who are gathering for the winter. It would not go amiss to set out some food for the wild life, especially in urban areas where the wildlife do not have their natural food sources. We are set to take care of the world, and what a great way to show your thanks for all of God’s creation!
“Have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Genesis 1: 28
Here “dominion” can be read as husband or “to take care of”. There are many ways to do this: Set out bird seed or nuts on your back porch, take a walk in the woods dropping wild animals food as you walk, drop pieces of bread in a lake to feed the fishes, look around, ideas are not hard to find.
Peace be with you.