Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Advent candles and presents
Recently I have been blessed by the sharing of Advent traditions among friends and congregation members. Growing up, our family did not really have many traditions during the Advent season. This was probably due to our congregation not having Advent services and did not make a big deal of the Advent season. Nor did we have many "Christian" traditions with Christmas besides worship on Christmas eve.
Three traditions that our family is trying this year to prepare our family for the coming of Christ:
1) Advent Candles at home. Each week of Advent we are now lighting the candle which corresponds to the candles lit in church (purchased from Northwestern Publishing House). After supper we light the candles while singing "O Come, O Come Emmanuel." We have a short reading from a kid's Advent book and then before blowing out the candle we sing, "Silent Night." This has helped our children learn the hymns and gets them excited after supper for the "birthday party" for Jesus.
2) Number of presents for the kids. While speaking to a good Baptist family, they commented on how their children only receive three gifts for Christmas. I said, "Oh, any particular reason?" "Yes" they said, "If Jesus only got three, then we don't deserve anymore." Although this tradition is not something to use in a legalistic way, it does help keep us all pointed to the reason for Christmas and hopefully fends off a little bit of materialism. This year the Finnern kids will only get three presents each (more than likely they will not be that big either).
I'm hoping for a new tie!
3) Present for Jesus/other child. We continue the tradition of St. Nick (not Santa) of giving this time of year through stockings. We have stockings up for all the members of our family and then an extra one for Jesus. We will gather letters and small gifts (stickers, trinkets that can be sent by letter) and we will then send the gifts to our sponsor child in Kenya through Compassion International. The kids are very excited about getting presents for Jesus and a great teaching moment of how when we help others, we are in essence serving Jesus (Matthew 25:31-46).
Hey, our family doesn't have it all figured out. Too many mistakes made here at the Finnern household. I would love more input from other families of ways to keep Christ at the center.