If you’ve been around children in the last few weeks you’ve already heard, “I can’t wait for Christmas!” Children exude the excited waiting of the post-Thanksgiving, almost Christmas, Advent season. Each December day little ones ask, “Is it tomorrow?!” And their bubbly expectation will only grow as they see lights go up, trees decorated, and treats brought home. Where anticipation comes easily to children, adults often need help.
SO, WHAT ARE WE ANTICIPATING?
Advent begins just after Thanksgiving and ushers us into Christmas, shaping our focus and helping us see the greatest anticipation of our souls.
Before the 1800’s the church celebrated Advent primarily as a season to focus on the second coming of Christ, with Christmas being a bright reminder that Christ has come and will come again. In more recent history, the focus of Advent has shifted primarily to the initial coming of Christ, the Incarnation, Jesus born in Bethlehem. Both traditions orbit around one central idea — anticipation. Israel waited for a Messiah. The earth longed for a Curse-Lifter. Humans needed a snake killer. And every heart yearned for someone to defeat sin and overturn death.
LONGING, THE HEART OF ADVENT
The heart of Advent is longing. It’s not the same longing you have to escape the DMV line. It’s more like the longing you experience in baggage claim, the building anticipation of seeing a loved one’s face. It’s the constant desire of a parent whose child has spurned them and left home. It’s the person with a chronic or terminal disease, holding out for a cure. Advent is about a longing that so invades the heart, it alters our thoughts, our beliefs, our actions, and day to day interactions.
As a people, we do not endure longing or waiting well. To purposely engage our inner sense of longing and waiting can even be awkward. But be encouraged. As we uncover the greatest of needs, then wait while looking to Jesus, our enjoyment of Christ and of this season will grow. We will be able to resonate with the Psalmist who says “I waited patiently for the Lord and He heard my cry.” We will understand more of these words of Jesus, “Blessed are those who are poor in spirit…those who mourn…and those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.”
Poverty of spirit, acknowledging our deep need, and longing to be filled, is what prepares our heart to treasure the One who came first as Emmanuel to dwell with us, and the One who will come again to make all things new.
We’ve curated a list of Advent resources so that together, we can seize more of Jesus in this season. These resources give us a chance to break up the hard ground of our busy, immediate gratification-oriented hearts and connect with the deep longings of our souls. We’ve tried to organize these resources based on life seasons and what might best work for different ages and demographics.
Adult Advent Resources:
- Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus by Nancy Guthrie
- The Dawning of Indestructible Joy: Daily Readings for Advent by John Piper
- Joy to the World: Daily Readings for Advent by Charles Spurgeon
- Come, Let Us Adore Him: A Daily Advent Devotional by Paul David Tripp
- The Advent of the Lamb of God by Russ Ramsey
Kid-Friendly Advent Resources:
- The Way to the Manger: A Family Devotional by Jeff and Abbey Land
- The Shepherd on the Search by Josh Helms
- Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room by Nancy Guthrie
- Prepare Him Room by Marty Machowski
- Unwrapping the Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp
- All is Bright by Nancy Guthrie (Family Devotional and Coloring Book)
We hope these resources bless you this Advent season as you prepare your heart to enjoy and treasure Jesus. If you know of additional Advent resources your family has benefited from, feel free to comment with them below.