The Advent Season begins today (Sunday). For some, that’s exciting. And for others…yeah, we saw that eye roll. Some of us are just over here doing our best to put up a tree and shop for gifts. We are down right weary and the last thing we want is someone else telling us that there’s more we need to do during this chaotic season.
But that’s the thing: Advent isn’t about adding to your to do list. It’s about anticipation, waiting, expectancy. It’s preparing room for Him in our hearts, in our lives.
In case you’re new to Advent, here’s a basic primer: The four Sundays leading up to Christmas are considered “Advent.” Many churches light candles during Advent, sing hymns, and focus on specific passages of Scripture each week. For a lot of believers, Advent observation takes place at church and that’s about it.
However, Advent is meant to be more than lighting a candle or a series of quiet times. It’s a season of spiritual preparation—worship, reflection, and meditation—on all that Jesus’s coming meant then, now, and for the future. Instead of the frenetic, chaotic season that Christmas has become, Advent invites us into the space of quieting our souls and preparing Him room.
For those who are searching, or for those who are interested in learning more, we’ve compiled a list of Advent resources—and by “Advent resources” we mean more than the piece-of-chocolate-a-day calendars. Whether or not you use any of these or come up with your own ideas, it is our prayer that this season you create margin in your life to dwell on the Emmanuel, the God who is with us.
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…”
Christ Was Born for This [from She Reads Truth] & Christ Was Born for This [from He Reads Truth] :: “We’ll spend the Advent season exploring the Old Testament roles of prophet, priest and king, and the ways in which Christ came to perfectly fill each of them, as well as a week in Luke’s beloved narrative of Christ’s birth…” [*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 individual study as well as family/small group studies. Also includes a Spotify playlist and Pinterest boards for further ideas.]
Surviving Christmas: Advent Devotions for the Hard and Holy Holidays [AnneMarie 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]
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.”
2016 Advent Calendar and Devotional [from Amen Paper Company, formerly known as Naptime Diaries] :: “As a way of making a declaration over each day, we have chosen a word for each day of Advent to follow the phrase ‘let it be.’ We partnered with dozens of women throughout the Amen Paper community who submitted original writing to make our 25 day ‘Let It Be’ Advent devotional. The devotion for each day will correspond with the cards of the Advent calendar.…”
Advent Planner Sample [from Sacred Ordinary Days] :: Sacred Ordinary Days offers a daily and weekly liturgical planner, and for the Advent Season they are offering a sample planner for $4.00 that you can print at home to use as a guide for reading, planning, and praying through the season. They also offer a host of other Advent resource books, music, and articles here.
What other Advent resources do you know of? Share them in the comments below.