Friday, November 29, 2013

Remembering Advent

In a lot of ways, Advent is one of my favorite times of the year, next to summer.  At least I love what Advent is supposed to be...these days I have less time to enjoy and appreciate it as I have at other times in life.  

I first fell in love with Advent when I was in college and played my flute for the Lutheran Campus Ministry.  Every Wednesday during Advent, we gathered for Holden Evening Prayer and that time of worship was incredibly peaceful and uplifting.  It seemed to truly capture the sense of preparation and wonder that Advent is all about.

Now that I'm a parent, though I don't have much time to "be still," I do want my kids to grow up knowing that there is an important season between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  With that in mind, throughout the season of Advent this year (December 1 through December 24) I am going to post a variety of traditions your family might adopt for Advent and ways you can talk to your families about this season of hope and anticipation.

Here's the first idea: 
Shepherd's Pouches (This idea comes from the book Treasuring God in our Traditions)

In place of where the stockings normally hang, hang a “shepherds pouch” from December 1-24.  Then gather the family and talk about whose birthday is coming up. Jesus’.  What do you do on birthdays?  We give presents.  How do we give presents to Jesus?  How do we give to the King?  We love and care for others.

Throughout Advent, put money (quarters, or a dollar, or whatever you want) into the pouches whenever you see one of your kids serving someone else (a sibling, parent, neighbor, etc.).  On Christmas Eve, count up all the money in the pouches and choose a charity to donate the money to or pick something from the ELCA World Hunger Good Gifts catalog to donate to someone in need. 

Cultivating a spirit of self-sacrifice is hard for us – harder still for children during this season and in this consumeristic culture.  This activity is a visual reminder to maintain focused this season and that the magnificent event we celebrate on December 25 began with God’s fierce and determined desire to love a faraway people.  This One came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.


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