Our world is one big race to see who can get things done the fastest. The words “waiting” and “patience” generally have negative connotations. Because of that, there’s very little to wait on these days—save a few things that are out of our control like childbirth, graduation, or the DMV. Everything else is all about speed.
That’s why, when you think about it, the Advent season is so beautiful.
You might’ve seen calendars with chocolate treats or displays with 25 days of small presents to unwrap or candles in a wreath at your church. These are all things associated with the Advent season. And while those things are all fine and good, there’s so much more to the Advent season than watching someone light a candle at church on a Sunday morning or partaking of a daily piece of chocolate.
In case you’re new to Advent or want to know more about it, here’s a primer: “Advent” means “coming.” It’s a season of spiritual preparation and preparing room in our hearts for Christ. Advent is about the expectancy and waiting associated with the Immanuel, the God With Us. It reminds us of the anticipation of generations before who were waiting for His coming. It’s about seeing and savoring the season we’re celebrating right now, but it’s also a time when we expectantly await His return. We turn our hearts toward the Already and the Not Yet of the Kingdom of God.
Many couples and families shy away from Advent because they see it as a period that necessitates doing more. But that’s not what Advent is about. It’s about the posture of our hearts during the coming weeks. It’s about slowing down and not missing the wonder that He was, He is, and He is to come.
We’ve put together this list of Advent resources for those of you who want to spend more time this season preparing room in your hearts. Some are for individuals and others are for the entire family. Whether you use these Advent resources or not, it is our prayer that we all create more margin in our lives during the coming weeks so that we don’t simply survive Christmas. May we look to Christ in eager expectation and wonder for all of the promises He’s already fulfilled and for those yet to come.
Understanding Advent Better
“Prepare Him Room” [from Desiring God] :: “It is no less ironic that Jesus can stand on the periphery of our busy Advent activities than it was that he, the Son of David, lay in a manger in a field on the periphery of the city of David. Therefore, as we plan our Advent season, ‘let every heart prepare him room.’ Surely we can find some room somewhere…”
“What Is Advent?” [from Justin Holcomb] :: “While Advent is certainly a time of celebration and anticipation of Christ’s birth, it is more than that. It is only in the shadow of Advent that the miracle of Christmas can be fully understood and appreciated; and it is only in the light of Christmas that the Christian life makes any sense. It is between the fulfilled promise of Christ’s first coming and the yet-to-be-fulfilled promise of his second coming…”
“The Importance of Advent” [from LifeWay Women] :: “When I think and read about the prophets predicting Jesus’ birth, I am thankful for the hope of Jesus. When I’m reminded of the Israelites enslaved and then in exile, I am grateful for the God who is with us—Immanuel. I anticipate celebrating Jesus’ first coming, but Advent also points me to His second. We still long for hope, for peace, for God With Us. In His second coming, we will have perfect hope, peace, and we will be with God for eternity…”
Free Advent Resources
Good News of Great Joy: Daily Readings for Advent :: “Good News of Great Joy: Daily Readings for Advent contains 25 short devotional readings beginning December 1 and going through Christmas Day. This book of Advent meditations aims to put Jesus at the center of your holiday season. These readings are excerpted from the ministry of John Piper and correspond to the daily readings in Desiring God’s free devotional app, Solid Joys…”
Born is the King [from She Reads Truth] & Born Is the King [from He Reads Truth] :: “Being born isn’t what made Him a King. The Prince of Peace made Himself low, taking on flesh to be Immanuel, ‘God with us.’ The Maker became the Messiah. The Lion became the Lamb. The King of all became small to rescue His children and bring them home…” [*Daily reading plans available for a small fee on the app or for free on the website.]
Advent Guide [from The Village Church] :: “The Advent study walks through the narrative of Jesus’ birth. It begins in the Garden with God’s promise of a Savior and ends with an eager anticipation of Jesus’ promised return. In the middle, God shows His unmistakable faithfulness in sending the promised Rescuer. We see His love for the lowly and outcast as He proclaims the news of His Son to the shepherds. We marvel at His heart to see all nations come and worship His Son through the Magi’s journey…” [*Includes family study as well as a Spotify playlist and Pinterest boards for further ideas.]
Surviving Christmas: Advent Devotions for the Hard and Holy Holidays [Anne Marie Miller] :: “You love Christmas. And then you hate Christmas. Families, food, shopping, church programs with live animals…it’s easy to lose sight of what’s really important: slowing down to reflect on the glory of the Christ who came, who died, and who saved us. In this short and reflective devotional, author and Bible teacher Anne Marie Miller shares how crazy moments can be holy. Grab some Christmas cookies and cocoa and settle in to find peace in chaos in a hectic but holy time…” [*Free eBook, but consider making a donation to NoiseTrade in return]
Behold the Lamb of God: An Advent Narrative [Russ Ramsey] :: “Russ Ramsey tells a story you’ve heard a hundred times and still haven’t heard enough. With remarkable attention to the facts of the matter—the water dripping from John the Baptist’s beard, the heft of Abraham’s knife, the groans of a girl giving birth on a stable floor—Ramsey brings to life the story that brings us to life. Here is glory made visible, tangible, audible. Which is to say, here is the Incarnation…” [*Free Kindle version until 12/2/15]
25 Reasons Why Jesus Was Born [from Awana] :: “I’ve seen it plenty of times. You have too. From billboards to bumper stickers, it’s hard to miss: ‘Jesus is the reason for the season.’ I’ve heard that simple phrase so often over the years. It’s a nice reminder. But if I’m honest, it seems like it loses a little bit of power for me with every passing year. As the years roll on, I think I’m just more susceptible to auto-piloting Christmas…” [*Includes 25 devotionals and a free mp3]
The Jesus Storybook Bible Advent Reading Plan [from Adriel Booker] :: “The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name—have you read it? It’s seriously inspiring. The stories are so beautifully written and the illustrations are simply gorgeous. I love reading it as much as our littles do. Really, really I do…” [*Includes a free printable reading plan]
Books: Advent Resources for Extended Reading
Waiting Here for You: An Advent Journey of Hope [Louie Giglio] :: “It comes the same time every year. Christmas. We have plenty of time to anticipate it, or in some cases…dread it. And, before we know it, it’s gone as quickly as it came. What’s it all for? Is there really hope for today in the story of a baby born so long ago? These questions and others are answered in the promises of Advent…”
Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas [Multiple Authors] :: “Ecumenical in scope, these fifty devotions invite the reader to contemplate the great themes of Christmas and the significance that the coming of Jesus has for each of us – not only during Advent, but every day. Whether dipped into at leisure or used on a daily basis, Watch for the Light gives the phrase ‘holiday preparations’ new depth and meaning…”
The Dawning of Indestructible Joy: Daily Readings for Advent [John Piper] :: “The Christmas season is one of the busiest times of the year. But it is also a season of reflection and preparation for that special day when we mark Immanuel’s coming—the arrival of our eternal God in our own frail humanity. This is the greatest of history’s many wonders, something too stupendous to celebrate just on one day. Advent is a way of lengthening and intensifying the joy of Christmas…”
Preparing for Christmas: Daily Meditations for Advent [Richard Rohr] :: “’Advent is not about a sentimental waiting for the Baby Jesus,’ Richard Rohr asserts. Advent is a time to focus our expectations and anticipation on ‘the adult Christ, the Cosmic Christ,’ who challenges us to empty ourselves, to lose ourselves, to surrender.”
Digital Advent Devotional [from Naptime Diaries] :: “We partnered with dozens of women in our community who submitted original writing and photography to make this devotional. It is divided into five sections: retreat, expect, accept, embrace, celebrate. Each section features original photography, five devotionals, and room for notes and doodles…”
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