Don't you just love Advent?? It's a time of preparation and waiting, lots of anticipation, and a time to be filled with hope. Hope for the coming birth of our Savior and all the hope He brings into our lives. These four weeks of preparation are a great time to reflect.
What do you do for Advent? Anything special to prepare for the coming Christmas joy? Do you anticipate celebrating Christ's birthday in a special way during these four weeks??
The radio station I listen to has been discussing Advent quite a bit recently. No surprise, right? They had a guest on recently who was talking about ideas for Advent. Some of her suggestions were to pray for someone who needed prayers every time you light a candle on the Advent wreath; of course, having an Advent wreath is an important part of celebrating this Advent season; and when wrapping gifts, say a pray for the person to whom you are giving the gift you are wrapping. If you have children and do this with your children, it shows them the real reason for the season. I'm sure she had other suggestions, but those are the ones I heard that stuck with me.
In my house we have an Advent wreath that we light each night before dinner. What I like about this year is that because of the kitchen renovation we've been doing, we haven't had a chance to pull out any Christmas decorations. Instead, we just have the Advent wreath and for me, it keeps my focus on what Advent really is and where Christmas belongs. Christmas BEGINS on Dec. 25 and lasts for a couple weeks after that. It doesn't end on the 25th!! So this year, I am more focused on Advent because we only have the Advent wreath out and nothing else.
Also, I picked up one of the Blue Books at Church. These little books (blue for Advent and Christmas, black for Lent, and there's a third, probably Easter, but I can't remember the color) are great for quick daily reflections. They are published by a diocese in Michigan (I think). Each night we light the Advent wreath, have dinner, and then after dinner read the day's reflection in the Blue Book.
Another thing to remember is that Advent is a penitential season, just like Lent. So, this coming Wednesday Chris and I are attending a Reconciliation service at church. As we prepare for our Lord's birthday, we should reconcile our sins with God and be cleansed through this beautiful sacrament. It's part of our preparations for celebrating Christmas.
I also like how the Church reminds us about the penitential nature of this season. Mass begins with several of the lights out, the Advent wreath is lit, and the lights come on as the Liturgy of the Word begins. Also, in the Introductory Rite, the Gloria is not sung, just like during Lent. Come Christmas, the Gloria will be back! Also, we sing Advent songs ("O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" at every Mass this year!). Christmas songs will come out on Christmas and we'll sing them through Epiphany in January. But before then, we are focused on the preparation for the joyous celebration to come.
How do you and your family celebrate Advent? What special things do you do in preparation to celebrate our Lord's birth?