Wednesday, November 09, 2011

only 18 days 'til Advent!

"The liturgical year is the year that sets out to attune the life of the Christian to the life of Jesus, the Christ. It proposes, year after year, to immerse us over and over again into the sense and substance of the Christian life until, eventually, we become what we say we are -- followers of Jesus all the way to the heart of God. The liturgical year is an adventure in human growth, an exercise in spiritual ripening." (Joan Chittister, The Liturgical Year) 
If you've ever considered following the ancient rhythms of the  liturgical calendar there's no better time to start than at the Church's New Year:  Advent.  Even if your church follows the civic calendar more prominently than the liturgical, you can follow along with your brothers and sisters in Christ across the globe from the quiet spaces of your own home.  You could create -- figuratively or, even, literally -- a family altar in your own home.  This does not have to be elaborate, time-consuming or expensive.  Simple tangible acts will impress themselves upon your hearts and minds as well as your children's for a lifetime:  a book or two filled with rich images and time-tested writings, mealtime prayers, a candle or two.  

"The liturgical year does not begin at the heart of the Christian enterprise. It does not immediately plunge us into the chaos of the Crucifixion or the giddy confusion of the Resurrection. Instead, the year opens with Advent, the season that teaches us to wait for what is beyond the obvious. It trains us to see what is behind the apparent. Advent makes us look for God in all those places we have, until now, ignored."
If it may be of help to you, I've included a list of favorite resources our family has used the past several years.  

Advent devotional books:

  • God With Us: Rediscovering the Meaning of Christmas:  This is my favorite, favorite, favorite advent devotional.  It covers the weeks leading up to Christmas, goes through the 12 days of Christmas and moves into Epiphany.  The full-color artwork is gorgeous and the writings include authors like Eugene Peterson, Scott Cairns, Luci Shaw, Emilie Griffin, Richard John Neuhaus and Kathleen Norris.  We put this book on an easel next to our nativity along with some Bibles for people to pick up and read when they have quiet moments. (see photo above)
  • Devotions for Advent (Mosaic Bible):  We have both the Bible and the handy Advent and Lent devotional booklets.  The readings are the same, but the small booklet is great for carrying in a purse or sharing with a friend or family member.  The booklet is only $1.99 and includes the same full color artwork as the Mosaic Bible.  Wonderful resource for a family, small group, Sunday School class, or an entire church community.
  • My church is in the process of self-publishing an Advent devotional.  If they place it online, I'll update this info with a link.  
Cradle to Cross wreath from Joywares

Advent wreaths:
  • The Cradle to the Cross Wreath:  I've mentioned before how much we've enjoyed using this wreath for our Advent, Lent and Pentecost celebrations.  You can go to the JoyWares site  to see how the Voskamp family uses the wreath for Advent.  We have enjoyed it so much, but also do recommend using dripless candles!  I'm not sure how many orders they've received and whether you'd be able to get yours in time for the beginning of Advent, but I encourage you to order it anyway.  Worst case, you'll be all prepared for Lent 2012!
  • Jesse Tree:  Ann Voskamp has also made available a free Jesse Tree booklet with readings and printouts for your family to enjoy.  We've never tried this but I'm considering it for this year.  Never too old, I don't think.
  • Make your own advent wreath!  A few pictures I've seen in my blog reader.
Non Traditional Advent Candles 

I love the simplicity of this advent wreath by Sharon @ The Good, True and Beautiful.


"Advent is about learning to wait. It is about not having to know exactly what is coming tomorrow, only that whatever it is, it is of the essence of sanctification for us. Every piece of it, some hard, some uplifiting, is sign of the work of God alive in us. We are becoming as we go. We learn in Advent to stay in the present, knowing that only the present well lived can possibly lead us to the fullness of life."

 Click here to visit a site with all sorts of Advent information and resources.
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