“Advent Wreath! Advent Wreath! Advent Wreath!”
This is the mantra my 2-year-old son repeats as soon as bedtime routines begin–and sometimes before that.
Each night since the beginning of Advent, our family has observed Advent together by praying, reading a Bible passage, lighting a candle, and singing a verse and the chorus of “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” There is perhaps nothing more heart-warming than hearing our two young boys sincerely belt out, “REJOICE! REJOICE!” each night around the Advent wreath. This will be a family tradition for years to come.
We made the wreath together as a family at our church before Advent. We use it to mark the time as we eagerly anticipate the celebration on Christmas of Christ’s first coming to earth, even as we await and long for his second coming. The waiting and yearning themes of Advent have been particularly appropriate given that we have yet again recently seen the evil we humans are capable of.
For those of you who plan worship services, or like to think deeply about them, the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship has a helpful Advent and Christmas Resource Guide. A reflection from that site says:
In Advent we hear the prophecies of the Messiah’s coming as addressed to us—people who wait for the second coming. In Advent we heighten our anticipation for the ultimate fulfillment of all Old Testament promises, when the wolf will lie down with the lamb, death will be swallowed up, and every tear will be wiped away.
There is something for me to learn from my two-year-old’s persistence as we gather each night. The anticipation with which he comes to our time of prayer (often clapping his hands) is what I want to offer God in this time of waiting.