Friday, 07 December 2012 01:17


Written by  Bob Crittendon
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There has been this frequent struggle that ensues this time of the year over the amount of commercialism that we allow into our Christmas celebration.  We say that we desire a simpler holiday celebration and try to keep the focus on our Savior’s birth, but we end up getting caught up in the shopping frenzy and the age-old questions about what we’re going to give the kids for Christmas, what sort of tie we’re going to buy for the dad who has everything, where we’re going to spend Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, the week after Christmas, and so on and so forth.  

Christmas is fraught with decisions, and some of them are just part of the ebb and flow of the season.  But, perhaps you get an overwhelming feeling that you want to clear your head and let all the “Christmas” drain out.  Where is the peace in the pandemonium?  Can we really experience His presence amidst the presents?

I don’t even pretend to have all the answers, but I will tell you that if we were to integrate the concept of Advent into our Christmas celebration, I think we’d be better off.   The word “Advent” is taken from the Latin word “adventus”, that means “coming”.  A celebration of Advent is a time to reflect on the coming of our Savior.

The traditional view of Advent involves a wreath with four candles, each of which represents some aspect of Jesus’ birth, and a large candle in the middle.  One of the more common representations for the candles includes: prophecy, Bethlehem, shepherds, and angels, with the center candle being the Christ candle, lit on Christmas Day.  Commonly, you will gather those in your home together and engage perhaps in an Advent reading, and maybe even some carol singing.  There are many books that offer readings, or devotional thoughts.  In our home, our personal favorite has been Christ in Christmas: A Family Advent Celebration, with pieces by James Dobson, Chuck Swindoll, R.C. Sproul, and James Montgomery Boice.  For years, even since before Beth and I had children, we would designate a night and sit down, enjoy a reading, light a candle or candles, and p-a-u-s-e. 

Another popular expression of Advent is the Advent Calendar, and rather than being driven by the four weeks prior to Christmas, this practice involves doing something on each of the 25 days leading up to Christmas.  This can offer you a useful countdown, especially for young children, in helping to build anticipation for Christmas Day.  I would recommend an Advent Calendar centered on Christian themes in order to help maintain our focus on Christ. 

Perhaps a 25-day personal devotional is the ticket for you – a book of readings that you can intentionally use as a firewall against the creeping commercial spirit that is so easy to buy into.  Or, you can participate in a family devotional time once a day for 25 days.  

Our family has used what are called “prophecy boxes” in our home – 25 small boxes containing a piece of paper on which is written a prophecy about the coming of Jesus.  The study of and relating of Bible prophecy concerning the coming of Jesus can provide compelling evidence that can reinforce our faith.  

If you have younger children and time permits, a family reading time each day (or at least once a week) leading up to Christmas can provide an effective pause from the hectic pace. 

I believe there are many ways to celebrate Advent, in order to facilitate a spiritual Advent-ure during the Christmas season.  You just have to find what’s right for you.  The point is that this season, which is such a blessing because of how God has blessed us with the gift of His only Son, can turn into a curse if we are not careful to place the emphasis in the right place.  

If we are not intentional to plan time to spend with God, concentrating on His truth and the fullness of His love, then this season that bears His name can lose its meaning for us.  If you wake up on December 26th and think, “I’m glad that’s over”, then maybe you’ve missed what God has in store for you.

I believe that personal time with God, practical times of service to others, passionate worship to the One who gave Himself so that we might enjoy His gifts, and the proclamation of the gospel message to a world that desperately needs to experience the good news of Christ’s coming, are essential components of a rewarding Christmas celebration.  

For each of us, we have been given a wonderful gift!  We can experience the living God like never before.  So, don’t allow yourself to be deluded – make this Christmas an adventure that you will not soon forget.


Last modified on Friday, 07 December 2012 01:21
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