“Is it Sunday yet?” When we embarked on this journey into reformed, covenant theology and joined a local Presbyterian Church one of the goals we set focused on a renewed love for Sundays — specifically the corporate worship that occurs on Sunday. It was a goal that caused us to slightly alter a few weekly routines, and to develop new perspectives on what Sunday should mean. In general, we wanted every day to build an anticipation for Sunday — with the gathering together of fellow believers being both the culmination of one week and an inauguration of the next.
Hearing that question, “is it Sunday yet?” from our eldest was a signpost on our journey that for at least right then, in that moment, we were on track! Our focus on the season of Advent brought about the question and serves as another reason why I love everything Advent represents. We spend these four weeks anticipating the coming King, the Light of the world, and we are starting traditions to help incorporate our entire family into the season.
While keeping Christmas and Advent as separate, although closely linked, seasons has been quite the challenge, we are embracing the path and reaping benefits already! For the next couple of weeks, I’ll be sharing what this year’s Advent practice looks like. Hopefully, this will spark some long-standing traditions and serve as a reminder to myself next year of the things that didn’t work and need to be replaced or reimagined.
The Advent Wreath
Kenzie’s eagerness for Sunday had most to do with the lighting of the second advent candle. Our church has a beautiful advent wreath up at the front, and every week a family (usually with a newborn or expectant mother) walks up to light a candle. We were blessed to light the first candle last week, and as such we were decked out in advent purple (also to be worn for Christmas Eve — double use points). It set the stage for our family worship time that evening and our own lighting of the first candle of Advent. A Family Advent Celebration provides the literature we loosely follow during our family worship: beginning with a carol of the week, then a scripture reading, a second song, and a concluding prayer. Blowing out the candle after the prayer is quite the highlight! This is the third year we have used an Advent wreath and from all appearances will be repeated annually.
The Color Purple
Purple is the color of Advent, representing Christ’s sovereignty and symbolizing the repentance and fasting of a season when we await the coming King. Similar to Lent (which shares the color purple), we understand this season as a time of fasting, “doing without”, and waiting for Christ-child who ushers in Christmas, twelve days of feasting and rejoicing. This year I had hoped to have something purple for us all to wear on each Sunday of Advent — a hair bow, bowtie, earrings. It didn’t happen in time for the First Sunday of Advent, but during the following week we were able to round up a couple purple hair bows for the girls and a striped purple bowtie for Judah (thank you Kohl’s clearance!). Sneak peak: we were able to get the hair bows worn for the Second Sunday of Advent, but the bowtie didn’t happen.
Decking the Halls
Growing up the day after Thanksgiving was the Day of Decoration. We brought out the tubs of Christmas cheer, cranked up holiday music (and usually the AC, cause it’s Texas y’all), and set up our Christmas tree. Last year I attempted the same schedule...but by Christmas Day I was “feasted-out” and ready to take everything down! So much for the twelve days of Christmas. This year I made plans for the weekend after Thanksgiving to keep my itching hands from the same mistake. On the First Sunday of Advent, we brought out the Advent Wreath and put up our door wreath. Throughout our first week, we have put out things that are green (a garland on the stairs) or light related (other candles, lanterns), and set up a new (to us) treasure – the nativity I grew up with. Baby Jesus was kept wrapped in his packaging, as the children and I discussed (again – sensing a theme?) how we are waiting His arrival. The plan next week is to put lights up outside and hang ornaments from our trees.
We love Christmas music. All shapes and forms, with the exception of Joshua’s hours long playlist containing various renditions of Last Christmas — only he enjoys that. So deciding how to “fast” from Christmas music in Advent so that we can “feast” upon it during Christmas was hotly discussed. In the end, we selected four or five musicians with multiple Christmas albums that we heartily enjoy and are reserving them for the twelve days of Christmas. Everything else is fair game! So far the minor restrictions have caused Joshua to search out additional Christmas music, with some “out of the park” successes!
There is joy in anticipating, and wisdom in festina lente, hastening slowly. I pray and hope this Advent season will set the stage for many such practices in the years to come. Joyfully singing “O Come all Ye Faithful,” while meditatively singing “O Come O Come Emmanual.” Pausing to consider how frightening the darkness is, embracing just how much one candle chases the dark away and looking forward to the brilliant glory of all five – the representation of Christ’s Light in our dark world. We balance these perspectives for God’s glory and pray that He is honored in all we say and do.
See you next week as I recount our Second Sunday of Advent and the week that follows!