The church in which I grew up did not celebrate Advent or Lent. When I got married and began attending my husband’s Lutheran church, I learned what these two church seasons are all about. There is so much meaning packed into these two seasons and I’m very thankful I get to experience them now.
I love Advent for many reasons, but my favorite reason is that it keeps Jesus at the center of our Christmas celebrating. We talk about Santa Claus in this house. We have Santa figurings on just about every surface in the house. We have an elf that visits each year and flies around to a different spot each night. But in amongst all the commercial Christmas brick-a-brack are a few nativity sets which point us back to the real reason we are celebrating. That’s not quite enough though.
A few years ago, we were introduced to a series of books by Arnold Ytreeide. The first we read was Jotham’s Journey, next came Bartholomew’s Passage and then Tabitha’s Travels. This year there is a new Advent story called Ishtar’s Odyssey. These books are amazing. There is adventure, intrigue, and the love of Jesus coming to us told in the most exciting way. We read every night at the dinner table and the kids beg and beg for me to hurry up and eat already so I can read to them! I know Advent started yesterday, but you can always catch up. If you want or need something to keep you focused this Advent season, I highly recommend these books. One word of warning though: you may embarrass yourself by turning into a blubbering fool as you read the last bit of the story. It happens to me every year without fail. I know how it’s going to end, but it still gets me every time.
If you’re looking for a beautifully written Advent devotional to keep you personally focused on the coming Messiah, look no further than Ann Voskamp’s The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas. I honestly just picked this up last year because my Bible study was through for the season and I need something encouraging to read first thing in the morning before I face my day. My expectations were way exceeded with this humble little book. It would make a great gift as well.
I wish you a happy Advent season. Full of Christmas lights, Santa fun and much excitement over the birth of our Savior. Oh, and lots of goodies as well! The sweets recipes will start rolling out next week. Stay tuned!