The first of December is the time of year where everyone starts rushing around in panic realizing that Christmas is only 25 days away! We’ve got gifts to buy, cookies to bake, parties to go to and more shopping to do. It is also the first day of Advent, but is all that what Advent is really about?
What is Advent?
Advent simply means an expectant and hopeful waiting. In the case of the Christmas season of Advent we wait expectantly for the celebration of the coming of our LORD who chose to come to earth as a tiny baby. I am reminded of the hymn Come Thou Long Expected Jesus.
“Come, thou long expected Jesus,
born to set thy people free;
from our fears and sins release us,
let us find our rest in thee…
Born thy people to deliver,
born a child and yet a King,
born to reign in us forever,
now thy gracious kingdom bring…”
His coming had been foretold many years before. People were expectantly waiting for him. Of course they expected some sort of grand ruler or king not a little baby born and placed in a lowly manger, but that’s just how he came. Though Christ has already come, we can still use this time to focus our hearts on Him this season.
Advent is a time for rest and worship as we choose to focus on the true reason we celebrate. This time of the year should cause us to pause and reflect not create an excuse to get even busier and more stressed. It isn’t that you can’t enjoy parties, shopping, baking and opening gifts. I love those things too. But I think it is important that those things don’t rule our lives during this season.
The most important part of the season is reflecting on who that little baby born to the virgin Mary is and what he came to do for all of us. Don’t forget that he didn’t stay a tiny baby. He came to bring salvation to the world. This gift is the greatest gift of all. This gift is the one we should be most grateful to have.
Unwrapping the Gift Devotional
His wonderful gifts, especially that of salvation, are the very reason I teamed up with Crystal and Jane to put together our Advent devotional. We want to give you a way to focus on Jesus as you celebrate this season of Advent. Each day of the devotional is a short page reflecting on a gift we have been given through Christ. It is like opening a new gift each day!
Another way to follow along with the devotional is to use the printables that I created to go along with it. The first is just a page calendar with each days gift and verse. All you have to do is print the one page, hang it somewhere and you’re done! The other printable included in the book is a set of cards that you can use to make a calendar. See the instructions below for how I used the cards to make my calendar.
How to Make Your Own Advent Calendar
When I was a kid, my parents had a fabric banner with a tree on it and velcro spots to attach the felt ornaments to it. It was meant to be a countdown to Christmas. My sister and I always put the Santa on Christmas Eve and the Angel on the top for Christmas day. Though it was an Advent calendar, we never really thought of it as a way to celebrate Advent in the sense that we were expectantly waiting for Christmas day to celebrate the birth of Jesus. It was really just a way to countdown how many days until Christmas.
When I started to learn more about what Advent really means, I noticed other types of calendars that help bring the focus to celebrating Christ, the the true reason for the season. So last year, I made a calendar by cutting out circles with numbers one through twenty-five and wrote a different verse about the coming of Jesus on the back. Each day, I took one down and my husband and I read the verse together.
Unwrapping the Gift Advent Calendar
For this year, I wanted to do something special to go with the Advent devotional. So I came up with a way to display the gift and main verse for each day from the devotional. There are a set of two cards provided for each day. One is the gift box with the number for the day. The other is the name of the gift along with the verse used in the devotional. Here’s the steps on how I used them to create my calendar.
Step One: Print the Advent calendar cards from Unwrapping the Gift (pages 42-50) on card-stock.
Step Two: Cut out each card.
Step Three: Match up each number card with its corresponding verse card.
Step Four: Take a needle and push it through the circle at the top of each set of two cards card then push small craft brad through the hole and flatten the back.
Step Five: Find a box or foam board big enough to put all the cards on. Lay them out to make sure they all fit with room to open each one.
Step Six: Wrap the box with wrapping paper.
Step Seven: Lay the cards on the box in the order you want them and tape or adhere them in some way.
Step Eight: Place a bow and gift tag at the top so it looks like a present.
To use the calendar, simply move the top card (the one with the number) to the left on each day. Go to your devotional and read about the gift. This is essentially mimicking the opening of the gift for the day. Keep them all open as you go so that when you get to the last day you will have 25 opened gifts!
As you read about His gifts today, take some time to watch this video and listen to the song, Come Thou Long Expected Jesus. Be sure to thank Him for coming to earth to bring you these gifts. Click here if you are unable to see the video.
How are you going to be purposeful about focusing on Christ this Christmas?
Do you have any special traditions that you do to help you with this?