Today is First Sunday of Advent, the beginning of the liturgical calendar in the Western Christian tradition and a month that give Christians an opportunity to reflect on the tradition of the Nativity and the coming of God into the world and into their lives.
Growing up in the LDS Church, I was aware of “Advent Calendars,” but otherwise was only vaguely aware of traditions like Advent season, Lent, and Holy Week. A few years ago I began crafting a private devotional practice of observing the Christian liturgical calendar and it has been a meaningful and edifying contribution to my spiritual life as well as that of my family.
This year my plans include:
- Setting up an Advent wreath and candles in our home for family devotional activities each of the four Sundays of Advent.
- Daily readings and reflection from Richard Rohr’s collection of Advent essays as well as the edited collection by Plough Publishing.
- Participating in Advent services with my local Anglican and Catholic congregations.
- Using the occasion to especially reflect on my personal relationship with God and how I might deepen my relationship by “waiting in the mystery” that Advent season symbolically represents.
I also can highly recommend BYU professor Eric Huntsman’s online collection of LDS-themed Advent materials which has dozens of great ideas for personal and family observance. His book Good Tidings of Great Joy is another excellent resource. (See also his 2011 Deseret News editorial on the topic.)
Other excellent resources include (but are not limited to):
- Resources from Mormon.org’s 2017 “Light the World” initiative
- “Making Christmas Count” LDSLiving.org Advent calendar
- Advent Conspiracy
- Advent worship resources from the Community of Christ
- God in the Manger: Advent devotionals by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, edited by Jana Riess
- Simply search for “advent devotional” on Amazon.com
- “The Way of Love” Episcopal Advent 2018 resources
- 2018 Advent resources by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
- Advent Resources from the Presbyterian Church (USA)
- Advent Resources from the United Methodist Church
- Participation in a Facebook advent community or other social media forum
- “Advent, explained” by Vox.com
“…And then, just when everything is bearing down on us to such an extent that we can scarcely withstand it, the Christmas message comes to tell us that all our ideas are wrong, and that what we take to be evil and dark is really good and light because it comes from God. Our eyes are at fault, that is all. God is in the manger, wealth in poverty, light in darkness, succor in abandonment. No evil can befall us; whatever men may do to us, they cannot but serve the God who is secretly revealed as love and rules the world and our lives.” — Dietrich Bonhoeffer, God is in the Manger, Reflections on Advent and Christmas