By Jane Sutton-Redner

A few weeks ago, before the weather turned and before I’d put away my summer clothes, there it was: Costco’s Christmas section. Reflexively, I started to stress; the first signs of Christmas have that effect on me. My mind goes immediately to the work involved: shopping, decorating, cleaning the house for guests. Some years, it seems that I miss “the reason for the season” all the way up to the Christmas Eve service—when the lyrics to “O Holy Night” finally sink in.

Advent adult coverIf you’re like me and you’d like to approach the celebration of Christ’s birth in a joyful rather than frazzled state of mind, consider observing Advent this year—spending four weeks in reflection and anticipation for Christmas. My colleagues have developed a useful tool for groups or individuals to observe Advent: Hope, Love, Joy, Peace. The free PDF leads you through week-by-week candlelighting, Scripture, prayer, and action ideas.

Children's Advent CoverThere’s also a children’s study, Sharing Christ’s Love, which is great for Sunday school groups or families with younger children. It delves into the Christmas Story and helps kids see the similarities between biblical times and our world today. There are also creative, hands-on activities. And it’s free.

Maybe this is the year I can get it right—cut down on the crazy holiday busyness and take time to prepare my heart for the joy of Jesus. Who’s with me?


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