Spiritual Tools for Advent
”But our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 3:20)
”Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.” (St. Matthew 24:42)
Advent is an anglicized version of the Latin word adventus, meaning "coming". The word points to waiting and anticipating. This is the time of year when most of us are waiting with great anticipation. Some are waiting to see relatives and friends; some, waiting to receive gifts; some to receive gifts; and still others, to get past December to begin a new year in January.
In the midst of all of this anticipation, I bring your attention to the great anticipation -- the coming again of our Lord and Savior. If we allow ourselves to be caught up in the hustle and bustle of pre-Christmas shopping and celebrations, it’s even more important that we take time out to prepare spiritually for Christ’s coming.
The celebration of Advent is both joyous anticipation and sincere preparation. During this year’s Advent (November 30 – December 24), I encourage each of you to set aside time for prayer, fasting and repentance as we anticipate the joy and hope of what Christmas symbolizes, and look forward to His Return.
Here are some suggestions to be grow in the Lord, while keeping Christ at the center of the Advent season:
- Place an Advent Wreath in your home. The wreath itself means “victory”, representing Christ’s victory over sin which allows us to have eternal life with him. The candles symbolize the light of God coming into the world via Jesus’ birth. The circle of the wreath has no beginning or end symbolizing Christ’s eternity. Help your young ones find the meaning of each candle and assign them to light the appropriate candle each week. A scripture may be read, a prayer said or a carol sung as the candle is lit. Read more about the wreath here and here. You may find them locally at Family Christian Stores, or online.
- The Jesse Tree is also a popular Advent tradition. A Jesse Tree, named for the father of David, is a tree that is decorated gradually throughout Advent with symbols or pictures of biblical persons associated with the lineage of Christ as the root of Jesse. This ancestry includes, among others, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Joseph and Mary. The Jesse Tree tradition provides a wonderful teaching opportunity; it is a perfect way to teach and remind children about the preparatory nature of Advent. For more information see here.
- Advent Calendars for all ages are available for many book and calendar distributors. Some have daily scriptures and others, daily treats to help young and old to observe God’s goodness each day during Advent. Read more here. You may order calendars or simply use the online version.
- Daily prayer time. The Daily Offices—our BCP Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer are great tools, as are the Liturgies of the Hours. Go to CommonPrayer.org
- Fasting. Fasting may take many forms, varying from total abstinence from food for a period to giving up one special item. Follow principles that you use during Lent. If you’re looking for some guidance on fasting, consider this book.
- Examen, or self examination, looking into your personal life in Christ by asking God the Holy Ghost to show you what He sees in you. Pentecost for the Season!
- Choose a Kingdom alternative to conspicuous consumption this year. Donate to real mission work by Father Jerry and Stacy Kramer at the Advent Conspiracy.
- Use the Season to proclaim the Gospel. Bring unchurched and out-of-church friends to Advent events, such the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols or Christmas Eve Midnight Mass. Wish everyone you meet “Merry Christmas!”
He is coming!
Posted on December 3, 2014
by Fr. Chip Harper filed under