In an on-line note, a pastor expressed surprise that a religion reporter called to find out about Advent. My first reaction was: “How and why did this person become a religion reporter?” Then I thought, “Well, at least she asked the question.” It’s rare to see the headline “Let’s celebrate Advent.” More likely you’d read: “Retailers declare Christmas now starts in June.”
Why celebrate Advent? My parents answered this question for me every year. I was reminded of that this weekend when I got out my Advent wreath. In the same bin I found the gold-painted walnuts for our Advent chain, a family tradition.
But it’s not always an easy question to answer. Retailers focus on gift-giving. Prepare the Royal Highway isn’t as familiar as Joy to the World. And while stores stock Christmas cards, they carry few, if any, Advent calendars. At times I even grumbled through our family devotions: “We only do this because Dad’s a pastor, right?” Thankfully, no. My family sees Advent as a way to celebrate the glory of anticipation, learn from the prophets, appreciate the gifts God gives us, share in traditions and remember that Jesus is the true meaning of the season.
Why celebrate Advent? A good question. To find the answer light the Advent candles, make an Advent chain (directions below), sing Advent hymns, practice daily devotions or hunt down that Advent calendar. The gift of this season lasts a lifetime.
To make the chain:
1. Open enough walnuts for each day of Advent. Have extra on hand if they crack. Keep the two sides together; clean out the shell. Paint the shells gold.
2 Write Bible passages on small slips of paper. Use Old Testament passages that foretell the coming of the Messiah.
3. Put the Bible verse in one shell half with a few M&Ms. Fill the other half with M&Ms. Put a thin layer of glue on the shells. Glue the two halves on each side of a red ribbon (1 1/2 yards, 1-inch-wide). Continue the process until all the shells—except the last pair—are on the ribbon.
4. Place a small plastic doll (buy at craft stores) on one side of the last shell pair. Glue the halves to the ribbon. Open on Christmas Day.
5. For each day of Advent, open a walnut, look up the Bible verse and discuss it with your family. If you open the shells carefully, you can reuse them. To keep the pairs together, store in an egg carton.
© 2014 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers