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Advent - the coming of the King

Advent - the coming of the King

Thursday, 27 November 2014  | Di - Assistant Principal - Primary
Advent means ‘coming’ or arrival. During the season of Advent we prepare our hearts and minds for remembering the coming of the King. We take time to reflect on God’s great work in sending his son to redeem and restore the world.

What can you do this Advent to prepare your heart to be open to God and to what he might be prompting you to do or say in God’s great story of hope?

December is just around the corner and that means we are racing toward the end of the school year, Christmas and holidays. Does that fill you with panic as you see 2014 slipping away with an endless stream of ‘must dos’ to be done?

As a young Mum I remember sometimes falling into bed exhausted, wondering if I would ever make it to the school holidays and through the Christmas rush. Stress seemed to mount as expectations for attendance at an array of events and pressures to meet family commitments and spend money, built.

When I think back though, I also have wonderful memories of that first weekend in December as we began to talk with our children about the Christmas season.

One of the first things we did together as a family was make an advent wreath. We lived in an old house in Healesville. It was a rambling weatherboard house with beautiful sash windows and mountain ash floors. The garden was filled with shady oaks, liquid ambers, hydrangeas and fruit trees. Our kids loved to make cubbies in that huge old garden and would disappear for hours as they travelled to far away lands on their ‘horses made of trees’. When the first weekend of December hit the children would go out into the garden to gather ivy and greenery and we would shape it into a wreath with five candles in place. It would take centre stage on the kitchen table.  It didn’t take much effort and didn’t cost anything, except for the 5 candles (which we reused each year).
As the weeks of Advent went by we would light one candle each week and read the relevant part of the gospel story until on Christmas day all the candles were lit along with the central larger candle reminding us of Jesus’ birth. There is such a strong memory of the joy of sharing that family ritual and of how our children used to look forward to taking it in turns to light the candles, read the bible and say the prayers. We found that the focus would shift from rushing around, from consuming and from the hectic nature of the end of the school year. We were taking time out to welcome God into our home; to be quiet, peaceful, calm and contemplative and share the important things of the season. God was drawing us quietly and gently to think on things above as we allowed the space and time.

Symbols and rituals assist us to draw closer to God and to seek him. They help us to put meaning to concepts and ideas that are difficult for adults, let alone children.

In the first week of Advent the ‘Hope’ candle is lit. This candle reminds us of the hope we have in Christ, of the faithfulness of God and his promises in the Old Testament prophecies to send his son as redeemer of the world.

Our hope comes from God.

“The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; the Gentiles will hope in him.’ May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:12-13)
Hope is so needed in our world today. Perhaps your family could light a candle next week and pray that God’s hope will fill our homes, our school and our world. Perhaps some of the symbolism of the Advent wreath may be able to be used in your family setting. It may look like time out to focus on God’s great story at your evening meal or when you sit down together. It might be prayers at bedtime for younger children or sharing the story of hope with older kids and thinking about their place in that story.

As we enter this time of Advent may your hearts and minds be filled with hope, joy and the wonder of the coming of the King and may HOPE be spread abroad in your homes and families.

If you would like more information on how to use the Advent wreath there are a number of websites you could visit or use the Scripture Union book from the ‘Together with God’ series entitled “Family Ideas for Christmas and Summer” by Merrill Corney.
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