Advent is here! This beautiful season which marks the beginning of the liturgical year began on November 29 and will conclude on Christmas Eve. Celebrating this important season is a great way to introduce your congregation to the Christian calendar.
Advent means arrival, and the season beckons us to ponder three monumental arrivals: The arrival of Christ in flesh as a baby through Mary, the arrival of Christ in our lives in Spirit through faith, and the arrival of Christ at the end of the age to reconcile all things to God.
My joy over and relationship with this profound season led me to create this list of resources to help friends, family and congregations get the most out of this ancient tradition.
Christ is coming again!
5 Resources to Get Started
1. Read The Liturgical Year by Joan Chittister.
2. Read To Dance with God by Gertrud Nelson Mueller.
3. Introduce yourself to Advent with “Advent in 2 minutes.”
4. Watch Advent Conspiracy.
5. Read Preparing for Christmas: Daily Meditations for Advent by Richard Rohr or Advent and Christmas Wisdom by Henri Nouwen.
5 Advent Traditions to Consider
6. Make your own traditional Advent wreath.
7. Make a handprint wreath with your kids.
8. Make an Advent spiral from salt dough and walk with Mary towards Bethlehem.
9. Create an Advent prayer garden.
10. Count up to Christmas with these Advent calendar templates.
5 Advent Songs to Remind Ourselves It’s Not Yet Christmas
This is a season for singing Advent music, which is actually from Christmas carols. Consider introducing your congregation to these Advent selections:
12. Advent Carol Service by the Choir of Trinity College Cambridge, UK
5 Ways to Help Our Kids Give Christmas Away
16. Donate a bedtime story to low income families.
17. Shed a light on a brighter future.
18. Give hope for tomorrow – plant a tree, give a stove.
19. Host a toy exchange with friends.
20. Plan a party for vulnerable kids in another part of the world.
5 Ways to Simplify Christmas
21. Establish an Advent rhythm of contemplation and reflection.
22. Take a risk and buy nothing this Christmas.
23. Write your gift lists and shop before Advent begins.
24. Sign a simplicity pledge.
25. Pay more for less – buy only fair trade products.
5 Creative Ideas for Worship
26. Utilize this Advent candle liturgy.
27. Create an interactive worship experience.
28. Invite your congregation to participate in Advent Calendar in Sound.
29. Create a Twitter Christmas.
30. Create a Celtic Advent celebration.
5 Scripture-Reading Plans to Consider
31. Read the Daily Office from the Book of Common Prayer.
32. Pray as You Go with the Jesuits.
33. Download a Bible App with daily readings.
34. Read along with the Presbyterians.
35. Focus on social justice for the season.
5 Resources to Celebrate a Blue Christmas
36. Consider these creative ideas: Preparing for a Blue Christmas.
37. Utilize the liturgy “When Christmas Hurts.”
38. Choose from these songs of lament.
39. Play “After the Storm” by Mumford and Sons as part of your Longest Night service.
40. Use Danielle Rose’s adaptation of Psalm 88 for reflection.
5 Ways to Internationalize Christmas
41. Invite international students over for Christmas.
42. Add Christmas traditions from around the world to your celebrations.
43. Internationalize your Christmas menu and learn about other cultures.
44. Empower people around the world through micro-lending with KIVA.
45. Buy a livelihood for families in other parts of the world with alternative gifts.
5 Ways to Celebrate the 12 Days of Christmas
46. Take gifts to the homeless and volunteer at a shelter.
47. Plan an outing with someone who is alone at Christmas.
48. Take a disabled friend for a drive to see the Christmas lights.
49. Phone a friend or family member you rarely speak to.
50. Take a day for spiritual retreat and conduct a spiritual audit for the coming year.
That’s the list! Please feel free to share with others. Let’s all prepare together for the coming of Christ this Advent season. Also, feel free to share any resources, traditions and ideas you have so we can make this Advent the best Advent ever!