Keeping Advent Simple …

Advent is a time of preparation for the celebration of Christmas. The term is an anglicized version of the Latin word adventus, meaning “coming”.  It begins four Sundays before Christmas and ends on Christmas Eve, thus there is some variation in its length.

Advent is traditionally a season of expectation and hope.  And yet, it often gets overlooked as an important part of Christmas in the flurry that leads up to it.  Preparing for Christmas is just as important as celebrating it.  Here are some simple and easy ways to recognizing Advent as a separate and cherished season as you prepare for Christmas.

Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.
— Greg Anderson

Slow down

With everything moving so fast around us, it is important to slow down and take the time to notice the sounds and sights around you. Savor each bite of your food and enjoy the company of others without thinking about the future. When you slow down, you realize how much there is to appreciate in this world and you become more grounded and less anxious.  Go for a walk. Spend time in nature. Make time each day to be still.

Dedicate some time to yourself to savor the things that bring you joy.  For some people that might be exercise, reading, or doing something else they enjoy. But for a lot of people, turning to art is a wonderful form of self-care and self-expression.  Adult coloring books have become a popular way to help relieve stress, achieve mindfulness, and inspire creativity.  Here are a few holiday inspired coloring books that you can try this Advent season.

Incorporate meaningful rituals

Find small ways to turn regular activities into ritualistic celebrations.  Creating new daily practices, transforms ordinary moments into opportunities to stop, show gratitude, and marvel at the beauty of the Advent season.  Consider adding a simple ritual in the morning when you awake and again at night, just before bedtime. It may be a very simple act, short prayer or quiet meditation. Keep it brief, but deeply meaningful for you.

Give back

There are lots of places looking for volunteers at this time of the year.  Even if you don’t think you’re particularly talented there are countless ways to donate your time and skills to help others. Particularly for newcomers,  families who have recently experienced a loss or illness,  and those living alone , this time of year particularly isolating and difficult.  Spending time with someone can be the most important gift you give this season.

Making a positive impact in your community does not have to be complicated. You don’t need heaps of money, a crew of volunteers or boatloads of time to make a difference. Simply by using the skills you already have, and sharing them with others, you can come up with all sorts of creative ways to help someone in your community have a better day. Find ways to give back through Volunteer Match.

Play anticipatory music

Advent is a time of peace, love, and joy.  Liturgically, we hold off from the Gloria during Advent.  There is a beauty in hinting at it as we prepare for Christmas and slowly build up to the celebration.  There is plenty of great classical and traditional Advent music to help set the season’s mood.

Display or make an Advent wreath

Advent wreaths employ candles with a variety of colors.  Many churches use candles to represent peace, hope, joy, and love. Wreaths can be use the main theme of waiting to give structure and meaning to Advent, with each candle focused on different aspects of the season.

Read an Advent devotional

Reading  an Advent daily devotional can help you focus on the season in a way that is inspirational, encouraging and uplifting.  Choose a devotional to complement your intentions for the Advent season, or one that brings new insights or deeper meaning to your preparations for the celebration of Christmas.

Advent prayer

Star of Wonder, Radiant Goodness,
today I turn to you as the Source of Love.
I remember your Light dwelling within me.
Keep me mindful of your transforming presence.
Shine this goodness and love on each person
with whom I come in contact this day.
Draw me to your irresistible love.
I open my whole being to you.
I send your love forth into our world.
May all those who suffer find solace in your love.
May all of creation be at peace.
— Joyce Rupp

Advent Quotes, Prayers & Meditations:

Fourth of Advent

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