Today is the first Sunday of Advent. In the Christian church calendar, Advent is the “season” when we get ready for Christmas. In most Christian traditions, Advent has a dual meaning: we remember the first Christmas when Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, and the three kings awaited and rejoiced at the birth of Christ, while we also await and prepare for Jesus’ promised return. Then there’s the secular meaning of getting ready for Christmas–shopping, decorating, shopping, baking, shopping, wrapping, and (last-minute) shopping.
Even though it is December, I am not ready for the holiday hype. I am still
digesting my Thanksgiving pie in the Thanksgiving mindset of gratitude, and resisting the pervasive hurry! buy! spend! messaging that is bombarding me from all sides.
From the conversations I’ve had with friends and the posts I’ve seen on Facebook and other blogs, I am not alone. People are talking about scaling back on the commercial excess, “taking back Christmas,” and focusing on “the reason for the season.” It’s easier for me to do this now that my kids are older, but I’ve seen brilliant ideas about how to help young children focus on the giving side of Christmas.
Looking at the calendar, I know I can’t put off Christmas shopping for too long, but in the meantime I plan to focus on the bigger meaning of Christmas with daily prayer and devotion time. I found several on-line resources that I can use to guide me through a more spiritual Advent season.
There are a number of on-line Advent calendars, but this one from Loyola Press (a Jesuit group) seems to be what I am looking for this year:
There’s a Pinterest board by the Society of Saint John the Evangelist that will be updated every day with an Advent image and meditation:
Prayer for the first week of Advent:
The light of God lead us and make us unafraid.
The power of God protect us and make us strong.
The joy of God heal us and make us happy.
The grace of God bless us and keep us loving.
Now and evermore.
Have you found a fun on-line Advent calendar?
How do you keep focused on “the reason for the season”?