A significant obstacle to family togetherness today is space. There’s too much of it. The National Association of Homebuilders reported that the average size of homes is now over 2500 sq. ft.
Not only is our physical space widening but so is our mental and emotional space. We don’t want anyone too close. For example, each family member has a tablet, device, or screen. Every child has a sport or activity. For many kids, their closest community is their friends. Sadly, the same is true of many adults. Undistracted family time feels like an impossibility.
Christmas is a time to reclaim family togetherness.
Before we can emotionally get close, we need to get close physically.
Snuggle in. Get comfortable with sharing personal space. This may look like turning off all the lights and lighting an Advent wreath at the dining room table. It might be piling into mom and dad’s bed for devotionals or turning on the fireplace and wrapping up with blankets to listen to the Christmas story. Perhaps family togetherness happens in carline when everyone is physically the closest they will be that day.
All that togetherness is complicated too. The closer you get, the clearer you see cracks in others. But what if we didn’t just see the cracks, but we had a way to heal them? Togetherness through Advent devotionals can heal the cracks in your family.
Jesus never talked about Advent. It became a practice over 1500 years after He died. It may not be mentioned in the Bible specifically, but many verses address Christian practices in our homes and families:
Proverbs 22:6 Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.
1 Peter 5:2-3 Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.
Deuteronomy 6: 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
2 Timothy 3:14-16 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.
Psalm 78:1-4 My people, hear my teaching; listen to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth with a parable; I will utter hidden things, things from of old— things we have heard and known, things our ancestors have told us. We will not hide them from their descendants; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done.
What is Advent?
- Advent is a man-made tradition dating back to the 16th century.
- It comes from the Latin word adventus, which means ‘coming.’
- Advent is a season of waiting or anticipation before Christmas.
- Advent is the four Sundays before Christmas.
- Advent dates change yearly, but it always starts on a Sunday.
- Advent is often celebrated with the Advent wreath.
- In the 19th century, a German pastor took a wagon wheel and put 20 little white candles and four big red candles around it to use as a countdown to Christmas.
- Most Advent wreaths today consist of four candles. The four candles represent the four weeks of Advent, with one candle lit each Sunday. Three of the candles are purple because the color violet is a color that signifies a time of prayer, penance, and sacrifice. The third candle is pink and symbolizes joy.
How can we practice Advent?
1) Use an Advent wreath. Put it in the center of your dinner table or common area. Take turns lighting and blowing out candles.
2) Use an Advent devotional book for daily readings.
3) Pick a time in your day that you can stick with: bedtime, carline, or even mealtimes all work as good times to create a habit with your child.
What do Advent Devotions Do For My Family?
1) Advent devotionals are a routine part of your Christmas celebrations.
2) It creates a simple countdown and incorporates faith in the excitement of the holidays.
3) Advent devotionals promote focus by igniting the senses: the smell of the candle after it’s blown out, the sight of the fire in a dim or dark room, and hearing stories and questions about faith.
4) Advent creates a time of quiet reflection in a busy and chaotic stream of activities.
5) It encourages discussion and establishes a ritual vital for healthy kids growing in their relationship with Jesus.
6) Advent devotionals create togetherness.
No one was more serious about togetherness than Jesus. He came down into the womb of Mary, which is as close as we can get to another human. He grew up with an imperfect family and spent time with them for 30 of his 33 years. He invited twelve disciples to live life with Him. Even when everyone abandoned Him on the cross, the first thing he did after rising again was to find his hiding disciples. He stopped at nothing to be together with them.
This is why Red Letter Kids is offering our brand-new twenty-five-day devotional, The Great Advent-ure. Each day consists of a reading with two discussion questions. We want to foster family togetherness. The Jesus that died for you loves you. That same Jesus longs for togetherness with you and your family. He brings peace, love, and kindness. Jesus will stop at nothing to see your family gather together with Him at the center. I pray blessings over your Christmas season and your time of gathering.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6
– Allison Zehnder
Kiersz, A. (2015, June 3). America’s houses are getting bigger. Retrieved from Business Insider: https://www.businessinsider.com/houses-median-square-footage-chart-2015-6
A FREE 25-Day Christmas Devotional!
The Great Advent-ure is a 25-Day Christmas Countdown with the Red Letter Kids.
If there is one word that can describe the holiday season, it’s busy! So when the three Perez children get locked in an attic until they complete a Names of God challenge, they are forced to slow down and work together to discover the true meaning of Christmas.