Advent is already here! I have dusted off my Advent wreath, bought new candles and I am preparing to begin the celebration of this season.
Some members of your church family might be new to this celebration or just aren’t sure what to do and how to celebrate Advent, especially if celebrating with children for the first time. It is appropriate for the church to help families make this a fun and instructive time without entering into the shopper flurry which is the secular celebration.
During the early part of Advent, each child in the family receives an empty manger, perhaps made from the clementine crates at the grocery story, or created from a toilet paper or paper towel roll with Lego legs or an oatmeal box covered with bright paper will do. At bedtime each night, the children draw a piece of straw (available in small amounts at a craft store or some from your local nursery or aggie store) for each kind deed performed in honor of Baby Jesus as a birthday surprise and present to and for him. The straw is placed in the child’s manger or box daily. It is amazing how much love a child can put into their waiting manger when they are preparing for Emmanuel’s coming during Advent. On Christmas, each child finds an infant in his manger, placed on a small table or a chair beside his or her bed. Usually it is a tiny doll, wrapped in swaddling clothes. This custom fills the child with a yearning in Advent, and provides an image of the Christ child as the first happy glance in the morning and the last impression at night during the entire Christmas season which ends on Jan 5th as Epiphany begins on Jan 6th with the arrival of the magi.
seasons if we want to focus any attention on the theological reason for the season. Since the fourth century, the Church has celebrated the season of Advent (which means “coming” or “arrival”) to help focus our attentions on Jesus.
Elsa is a Commissioned Minister of Faith Formation. Prior to her retirement, she served as Resource Director and Associate for Christian Faith Formation and Youth Ministry for the Massachusetts Conference.