In the weeks leading up to Christmas, it’s easy to find ourselves stuck in overdrive. So. many. things. clamor for our attention. Passion gives way to pressure to squeeze as much as we can out of the Christmas season. Do more. Give more. Run harder.
But Advent is meant to quiet us, to still our frenzied nerves, and draw us closer to the heart of God. Advent isn’t one more thing to do. It is an invitation to release what doesn’t matter, for the One who matters most.
I’ve created a simple Advent email series to help you refresh your soul in a season that can quickly deplete it. If you want to push back on all the things that clamor for your attention to make space for the One who can give you life and energy for all the rest, I invite you to participate by signing up at the bottom of the post.
The Meaning of Advent
Just in case you don’t know much about Advent, here’s a little background. The word “advent” means arrival, or coming, and the season invites us to celebrate the coming of Christ, by looking back on Christ’s birth and by anticipating Christ’s return in the future.
The Church has divided the year into seasons (the liturgical calendar) according to the life of Christ. Advent is the first season of the church year.
Advent begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas. The Church commemorates the season using an Advent wreath. The four Sundays leading up to Christmas are represented by four candles, arranged around the wreath, representing different themes: hope, peace, joy, and love. There is a fifth candle, called the Christ candle, placed in the center of the wreath, which is lit on Christmas Day. The Church has curated Scripture readings to attend each Sunday of Advent to help us draw near to Christ. It’s a way of helping “every heart, prepare him room.”
Finding a Simple Advent Rhythm
When I first began engaging the season of Advent in my early 20s, I rose early each morning in December and joined my roommate around a wreath of candles. We lit the candles and read the Scriptures appointed for that day. This daily rhythm put hope and anticipation in my heart for all that Christmas and Jesus’ birth meant for my faith. The “God with us” warmed me with himself on those cold winter mornings.
As a mother, I’ve fought hard to hold onto early morning quiet times, especially when it comes to Advent. But I’ve found that the reality is that the kind of serene early mornings with God I enjoyed in my 20s are difficult, if not impossible, to recreate. My weekly reflection guide takes the life stage of a mother into account.
Set the Stage with a Simple Advent Wreath
God has not blessed me with the crafty gene. But if you would like to create an Advent wreath, you may find resources to do so here, and here, or you can buy one through my affiliate link here. Below is a picture of my simple make-shift Advent wreath.
I’ll also add ornaments, beads, or other small decorations. I’m learning that like with many things in life, there’s no one right way to do it. Use what you have and arrange it in a way that works for you.
An Advent Resource for you
Once a week, for the four weeks of Advent, I’ll quietly drop a short email into your inbox for you to take and ponder, and to launch you into conversation with Jesus. Each one will include a reflection on each theme: hope, peace, joy, and love; accompanying Scripture readings, and a prayer. My hope is that it offers grace and breathing room, rather than one more thing to do. Instead of offering daily readings which cause us to easily get behind and feel discouraged, the weekly reflection is designed to allow you to follow along more easily.
Think of this as an opportunity to take a quiet weekly retreat from the crazy to get alone with Jesus and refocus your soul. There’s no particular day or time of day you have to do it. Try it in the evening, or during a nap time, or on the weekend. It might also be helpful to let your spouse know of your intention to take this space for yourself. It can help you avoid conflicts or interruptions during your time with God. I hope you’ll join us.
Advent begins Sunday, December 3. Sign up now to receive all four Advent reflections.