Monday, December 19, 2016
As we approach the end of the Advent season and near the beginning of Christmas, it may seem impractical to still be talking about different types of Advent calendars. During the final week of Advent, perhaps you can find ways to include some of these ideas into your present Advent traditions or get planning for next year.
Many modern Advent calendars don’t align with the Liturgical season of Advent but follow a design of “24-day countdown” to Christmas. And while Advent is in a way a “countdown,” from a theological standpoint, it is better viewed as a time to prepare oneself for the coming of Christ. Get a head start on Advent 2017 with some of these DIY Advent calendar ideas, with suggestions on how to adapt them into a more traditionally religious Advent calendar.
1) Envelope Advent Calendar- This envelope themed calendar can easily be modified to include daily scripture, quotes, or ideas for reflection. Choose themes such as hope, joy, love, and peace to help you and your family prepare for the coming of Jesus.
2) 25 Random Acts of Kindness Calendar- The holidays are an exciting and joyous time but there is often an underlying feeling of chaos and anxiety for many people. Take the time to spread some joy and kindness around with this calendar, creating a different idea each day of Advent. Another example, with a calendar template, can be found here.
3) Advent in a jar- Short on space? This DIY calendar is for you. While the instructions suggest adding daily messages and activities, you could also incorporate Advent scripture and mediations that help you and your loved ones partake in the journey of Advent.
Advent Scripture Resources
General Advent Resources
Monday, December 12, 2016
If you have ever had chocolate from an Advent calendar, you are aware that it isn’t exactly the best tasting chocolate out there. That being said, chocolate advent calendars are a fun way to countdown to Christmas. While little is known about the origins of chocolate Advent calendars, President Dwight D. Eisenhower is often credited with the increased popularity of the Advent calendar in the United States. A photograph of him using an Advent calendar with his grandchildren was printed in several newspapers across the country during his presidency.
The popularity of edible Advent calendars has steadily increased over the past few Christmas seasons and there’s no telling what people will think of next. If you enjoy baking and cooking (or even if you don’t!), check out this Advent calendar from The Episcopal Church called Make Ready the Feast. Though the kick-off was November 20th, it’s never too late to start preparing yourself for the coming of Christ, via delicious recipes and the study of scripture. Happy cooking and baking!
Monday, December 5, 2016
The Advent Wreath is a long-standing tradition in many Christian denominations, including the Episcopal Church. Each church community has their own customs and practices regarding the use of Advent Wreaths. In the Episcopal tradition, the Advent Wreath is considered a “visual symbol marking the progress of the season of Advent” (BOS p. 30). However, there are no “official” guidelines regarding where the wreath is to be placed in the sanctuary, at what point during the service the candles are supposed to be lit, or the liturgy that should accompany the lighting of the candles.
Four candles are used in the wreath, representing the four Sundays of Advent. The candles are traditionally purple or lavender, but sometimes blue or red are used. Many churches choose to include a pink candle that symbolizes joy for the third Sunday in Advent, also known as Gaudete (Rejoice) Sunday. While not necessary, a white candle is often included in the center. This white candle is known as Christ’s candle and it is lit on Christmas Eve to symbolize the end of Advent and the beginning of Christmas. Other themes such as Hope, Joy, and Peace are sometimes associated with each week of Advent.
Many families choose to have Advent Wreathes in their homes, creating a space for reflection, listening, and prayer. An abundance of resources are available for readings, prayers and other liturgies online and in the Book of Common Prayer and the Book of Occasional Services.
- "Christianity is not a theory or speculation, but a life; not a philosophy of life, but a life and a living process." Samuel Taylor Coleridge
- "Most people are willing to take the Sermon on the Mount as a flag to sail under, but few will use it as a rudder by which to steer." Oliver Wendell Holmes
- "Perfection, in a Christian sense, means becoming mature enough to give ourselves to others." Kathleen Norris
- "Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can." John Wesley
- "The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried." G. K. Chesterton
- "One of our great allies at present is the Church itself. Do not misunderstand me. I do not mean the Church as we see her spread out through all time and space and rooted in eternity, terrible as an army with banners. That, I confess, is a spectacle which makes our boldest tempters uneasy. But fortunately it is quite invisible to these humans." C. S. Lewis
- "When we say, 'I love Jesus, but I hate the Church,' we end up losing not only the Church but Jesus too. The challenge is to forgive the Church. This challenge is especially great because the church seldom asks us for forgiveness." Henri Nouwen, Bread for the Journey
- "Christians are hard to tolerate; I don't know how Jesus does it." Bono
- "It's too easy to get caught in our little church subcultures, and the result is that the only younger people we might know are Christians who are already inside the church." Dan Kimball