Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Experiencing Advent:Week 1 Comfort

What is Advent?  

Advent literally means "the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event"...

Growing up the word advent meant one thing to me, CHOCOLATE!  My mom would purchase an Advent Calendar that had 25 little cardboard windows that hid 25 pieces of chocolate.  I'm sure the chocolate was cheap and gross, but as a child I LOVED this little Christmas countdown. 

{ps Trader Joe's sells 2 different versions of a chocolate Advent calendar, a cheap $0.99 one for the kids, or a $9.95 version with better chocolate for the grownups!}

This chocolate calendar was my only word association with Advent as a child.  But I knew that the arrival of that chocolate calendar in our house meant that Christmas was close!

The season of Advent is celebrated in many churches around the world.  The Advent season includes the 4 Sunday's leading up to Christmas,  Advent season focuses on expectation and serves as an anticipation of Christ’s birth in the season leading up to Christmas. The  Advent Wreath is one of the notable symbols that the church uses during the Advent season.  This wreath  is one that lays on a flat surface {rather than hanging on a door or wall}, with 5 candles within the wreath; three purple candles, one pink candle, & a white candle in the center of the wreath. As a whole, these candles represent the coming of Christ, the light of the world.  Each candle represents an aspect of the spiritual preparation for the coming of the Jesus Christ. Each Sunday during Advent, a candle is lit.

On the first Sunday of Advent, the first purple candle is lit. This candle is typically called the "Prophecy Candle" in remembrance of the prophets, primarily Isaiah, who foretold the birth of Christ. This candle represents hope or expectation in anticipation of the coming Messiah.

On the second Sunday of Advent, the second purple candle is lit. This candle typically represents love. Some traditions call this the "Bethlehem Candle," symbolizing Christ's manger.

On the third Sunday of Advent the pink, or rose-colored candle is lit. This pink candle is customarily called the "Shepherds Candle" and it represents joy.

The fourth and last purple candle, called the "Peace Candle," {sometimes the “Angel Candle”} represents peace and is lit on the fourth Sunday of Advent.

On Christmas Eve, the white center candle is traditionally lit. This candle is called the "Christ Candle" and represents the life of Christ that has come into the world.  The color white represents purity. Christ is the sinless, spotless, pure Savior.

Celebrating with an Advent wreath during the weeks prior to Christmas is a great way to experience Advent, the arrival and excitement of Christ, as a family.

The themes for Redding First this Advent season are :
Week 1: Nov. 29th - Comfort
Week 2: Dec. 6th - Know
Week 3: Dec. 13th - Redemption
Week 4: Dec. 20th - Peace

We think in the busy-ness of the holiday season, it would be wonderful to have a few things that your family can choose to participate in that reflect on these Advent themes and allows you and your family to experience Advent in a new way.

Family Friendly Advent Wreath
"Building" your family advent Wreath for less than $10
What you will need:
*5 decorative holiday glasses, we found these at the Dollar Store; $5 {or votive candle holders, small mason jars, etc}
*3 packages birthday candles; $3 {1 pkg pink, 1 pkg purple, 1 pkg white, Walmart has all these colors in the birthday section for $.98 pkg}
*something to stabilize the candles; sand, rice, rocks, lentils, etc; $1 or free {we found the green sand at the Dollar Store}
*greenery; clippings from trimming your Christmas tree, pieces from a tree in your yard, faux greenery, or mini faux wreath; $1 or free

Have your children place about an inch of your "stabilizing substance" in the bottom of the candle holders. They can then place one of the birthday candles into each holder (3 purple, 1 pink, & the white one in the middle).  Arrange candles in a circle in a location that works for your family; kitchen table, piano top, mantle, coffee table, etc.  Arrange some greenery around the bottom of the candles to mimic a wreath.  Each Sunday light the candle for that week.

I placed our "wreath" on a cake stand
 so I can easily move it off  of the table when needed

Advent Ornaments:
     Talk to your children about the 4 Sunday's of Advent and the meaning of each Sunday {The themes for Redding First this Advent season are Comfort, Know, Redemption, Peace or you can go with the more traditional Advent Themes of Hope/Prophecy, Love/Bethlehem, Joy/Shepherds, Peace/Angel & add a 5th ornament for Christmas Eve, the Christ ornament}.  
     Brainstorm ideas that these words might look like, {This was our families brainstorming ideas before we headed out, comfort=music, know=book, redemption=cross, peace=dove}.  Now with an open mind and brainstorming ideas still flowing go pick out inexpensive Christmas ornaments that would represent these ideas/words {Dollar Tree, Walmart, Target, Shopko, Kmart all have ornaments around $1 a piece.} 
     I took the kids out and tried to find ornaments that matched our brainstorming ideas, we ended up with, comfort=sleigh, {we also thought an angel would work, or we found a teddy bear or fluffy boots}, know=owl, {we also saw a hat or an elephant might work}, redemption=cross, peace=dove .   
     Now each Sunday/any day your remember or have time during Advent place your weekly Advent ornament somewhere special on your tree.
Different Options: Have a mini tree that you place your special Advent ornaments on, or a wreath that you hang on a wall or door.

What we ended up with comfort=sleigh, know=owl, redemption=cross, & peace=dove

Comfort Food
Cinnamon Roll Advent Wreath
Unbaked Cinnamon Rolls (either from scratch, frozen, or from the refrigerated can thingy, your choice)
In a 9x13 pan arrange rolls into the shape of a wreath/circle, bake according to recipe/package directions.
Add green food coloring to the glaze/icing and frost your Cinnamon Roll Advent Wreath with green!
Talk with your children about how we find comfort in different things (food, blankets, people) but that true comfort comes from God.

Our hope for these activities are not to add to your busy holiday season, but to give your family moments to experience Advent together.  Memories of slowing down and soaking in the meaning of this season.

Pastors Beau and Kiera

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