Happy New (Church) Year! Seems a bit odd to be reading that in these last weeks of 2017, but in the church calendar, Advent is the beginning of the liturgical year.
It is the beginning of a month of waiting and of preparation for the coming of the Christ Child.
In the Western Church, it covers the period of four Sundays leading up to Christmas. This year Advent begins on 3 December.
In just four short weeks, we will celebrate the moment when God took the form of a human baby in our midst. Historically, Christians have spent those four weeks searching hearts and lives to prepare for the birth of Jesus.
There are online riches aplenty for those who seek guidance and inspiration for this time of waiting. Here are a few of my favorites:
FOR DAILY PREPARATION
Three wise men and an intrepid camel journey toward Bethlehem, day by day. This beguiling Facebook page provides a new photo of Balthazar, Gaspar, Melchior, and Hezekiah each day of Advent, showing their adventures on the way to the infant king. Perfect for kids and grownups alike!
Scripture, music, and an advent devotional come to your email inbox each day when you sign up to receive d365’s “Following the Star,” a daily online devotional Set aside a time for quiet reflection during this holy time of waiting.
Participate in a worldwide, crowd-sourced Advent Calendar, by signing up for AdventWord . Organized by the Society of Saint John the Evangelist of the Episcopal Church, AdventWord operates on the social media apps Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. People from all over the world post photographs to go with a daily word, and the result is a global visual Advent calendar. Look, read, and meditate, or participate by posting your own photographs. You can see the list of upcoming 2017 words for the days of Advent and get some guidance on posting pictures at this site:
“ … mark the daily journey to Christmas with your prayers and drawings.” Self-proclaimed doodler, Sybil MacBeth says that drawing and coloring focus her mind for prayer. On her website, “Praying in Color,” MacBeth offers several free downloadable Advent calendar templates for anyone to use as they mark the days until Christmas.
FOR FAMILY EXPLORATION
Here’s a sweet live-action retelling of the Christmas story with child actors from St. Paul’s Church in Aukland, New Zealand.
Should my kids be at church on Christmas Eve? You bet! Read this great blog post by Christian Educator Carolyn Brown
Use an Advent Wreath at home as a focus for your family’s countdown to Christmas. This site will give you instructions for a simple Advent Wreath as well as some ideas for scripture and prayers to use as you light the candles.