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The lead-up to Christmas can be a complicated time for many people. Some feel that the day arrives suddenly and is gone just as quickly, while others find that December’s festive spirit is dampened by the stress of shopping, the busyness of work, or the unease of family tensions. However, for centuries, Christians have approached the Advent season as an intentional anticipation of the true story of Christmas, cultivating joy and thankfulness through a variety of practices.
The Origins of Advent
While the exact origins of Advent are unknown, the tradition dates back at least to the fourth century in Europe. Like the season of Lent before Easter, the original emphasis of Advent was on preparation through fasting and prayer. The word “Advent” comes from the Latin word ‘adventus’, meaning ‘arrival’, as the season commemorates the incarnation – the coming of Christ into our world as ‘Immanuel: God with us’.
Advent is traditionally celebrated over four Sundays in the lead-up to Christmas, with Eastern Orthodox churches observing a slightly longer period known as the ‘Nativity Fast’. The Advent calendar, a popular tradition, originated in 19th-century Germany. This calendar marks the days of Advent with small doors or compartments that are opened each day to reveal a surprise or treat.
Cultivating Joy and Thankfulness
To cultivate joy and thankfulness during the Advent season, many resources are available to guide individuals, families, and communities in their preparations for Christmas. Here are 51 theology resources in 2023 that can help deepen your understanding and appreciation of this special time:
Advent Devotional Books
- “The Expected One: Anticipating All of Jesus in the Advent” by Scott James: This short and sweet family devotional explores the promises fulfilled in Jesus, from his birth to his ascension, through daily devotions.
Advent Email Series
- “Common Home”: This daily email series for Advent 2023 features written and creative devotionals and prayers from a diverse group of contributors, catering to the social-justice-minded.
- “The Keeping Watch 2023 Advent Journal”: This journal provides thoughtful essays, Bible passages, and activities that help readers engage with ancient practices like Lectio and Visio Divina. Available as a digital PDF or a printed paperback workbook.
Advent Video Series
- “Arts & Faith: Advent”: This weekly video series offers commentary on works of art inspired by the Sunday Scriptures, serving as inspiration during the Advent season of hope and preparation.
- Baptist World Aid Advent Calendar: This classic Advent calendar features daily stories and questions to encourage reflection on Jesus’ birth and generosity, with all proceeds going to help families living in poverty through Baptist World Aid.
- Practicing the Way Advent Meditations: Carve out an hour each week for these Advent meditations provided by Practicing the Way. Reflect on the Christmas story and God’s invitational heart through Scripture readings, reflections, and guided prayers.
Denominational Advent Collections
Salvation Army Australia Christmas Toolkit 2023: The Salvation Army Australia has created a comprehensive toolkit for Christmas 2023.
Uniting Church in Australia Resources for Advent 2023: The Uniting Church in Australia has collected various resources to help their congregations cultivate joy and thankfulness during Advent.
Lutheran Church of Australia Advent and Christmas Resources: The Lutheran Church of Australia provides resources for Advent and Christmas celebrations.
Catholic Diocese of Wollongong The Sign Advent Program 2023: This program offers rich and accessible daily devotions from the beginning of Advent to the Baptism of the Lord.
Advent Book Catalogue
- Koorong Advent Book Catalogue: Browse through Koorong’s extensive collection of Advent resources, with books written by renowned authors such as Tom Wright, John Piper, and Paul David Tripp. All books are available at a 20% discount.
These 51 theology resources in 2023 offer a wide range of options for individuals, families, and communities to engage with the Advent season and cultivate joy and thankfulness. Whether through devotional books, email series, journals, videos, calendars, meditations, or denominational collections, there is something for everyone to deepen their understanding and appreciation of the true story of Christmas.
So, as you prepare for the arrival of Christmas, take the time to explore these resources and embrace the joy and thankfulness that the Advent season brings. May this intentional anticipation of the true story of Christmas enrich your faith and draw you closer to the love and presence of God in your daily life.