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Before yo even think of decorating your home for fall or Halloween, we are thrown into the overwhelming “stuff” of Thanksgiving and Christmas! This week I would imagine you’ve already seen a Christmas aisle go up in your local grocery or home improvement store. With so much attention and excitement surrounding the Christmas season, often the most important thing we need to be preparing for this time of year gets overlooked—preparing our hearts and our homes to celebrate Advent. I came home today from the home improvement store with the overwhelming sense I better make some time this fall to consider how I could prepare for Advent. Advent simply means “arrival.” Advent, (from Latin adventus, “coming”), in the Christian church calendar, the period of preparation for the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ at Christmas and also of preparation for the Second Coming of Christ. Advent is about setting aside intentional time to spend time hearing from God, being in His presence, and reading his word. At the very least, we need to pray for the season to be centered around Him. He is, after all, “the reason for the season” as people like to say. However, things move at lightning speed between Thanksgiving and Christmas. So before I even plan my Thanksgiving day meal and activities, or start hauling boxes out of storage, stringing lights, and putting up the tree, I am going to consider some ideas on how to make plans to spend the holidays with Christ at the center of our activities. We all know once we turn that page to November the days get filled quickly with all sorts of activities and preparations.

Be in the Word.

If regular Bible reading is not a part of your daily rhythm or family life, then it will be harder to make that time once the Advent season arrives. Preparing to celebrate Advent begins now by making sure the reading and studying of God’s Word are a priority for you and your family. Join a fall bible study and a “advent” study with some women. Attend some advent celebrations. PREPARE YOUR HOME 1. When I was in the store today, supplies for Thanksgiving were already somewhat depleted. I was surprised since it seemed the first time I could catch thirty minutes to consider fall decorations and supplies for tailgates and football parties since the children just went to school. Many use Advent wreaths. I am not crafty, but check out any sites on line to get ideas as these supplies will go quickly. Candles can be bought on sale if planning properly. In addition, to ensuring everyone understands what Advent is and why it matters, you will want to come up with a plan for what your celebration will look like. Consider all the ages involved in your family. Traditional Advent celebrations include weekly Scripture readings, prayers, and the lighting of Advent candles. 2. Each of the four weeks of Advent has a theme associated with it—hope, joy, peace, and love. These are all themes that connect us to the heart and mission of Jesus. Traditionally, Advent Bible passages are ones that encourage preparing our hearts for the arrival of Jesus and accompany each of those four themes. You’ll want to focus on Old Testament promises of the hope of the Messiah and passages from the Christmas story in Matthew and Luke’s Gospels. 3. Try to remember the reason we do some of the “traditions” in the holiday season. Remember it doesn’t have to be done if it means you are going to be stressed and do have time to spend in prayer with our Messiah or with your family. Spend some time this month before you loose energy and prepare your priorities for the season. The Christmas season should live with us every day throughout the year: Hope, Joy, Peace, & Love.

~ Julie Shipp

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