I grew up in a church tradition that celebrated Advent. Along with decorating the tree, lighting the Advent candles at the dinner table was a visual and spiritual marker that represented the beginning of the Christmas season.
We’ve attended a non-liturgical church for the past 16 years that doesn’t celebrate Advent. I was okay with that for a long time. I didn’t want to engage in any practice that reminded me of some of the things I didn’t like about the church in which I grew up. But, over the past few years, I’ve longed for a practice that bookends the Christmas season. One that didn’t involve consumerism. A spiritual practice. I realized that I missed celebrating Advent.
A few years ago, I told my family that we were resurrecting an old tradition. I pulled my Advent wreath out of the basement, bought the pink and purple candles and a little Advent booklet, and we began. Now it’s become a sacred tradition in our home.
Yes, that is a Jewish dreidel in my Christian Advent wreath. I put that in because I like to be ironic. Also, Jesus celebrated Hanukkah. So, in my book, it works.
My youngest son has a good friend who is Jewish. He likes that we light the Advent candles, much like his friend lights the candles on the Menorah. I like that, too. I also love the thought that we are joining a community of believers around the world who are lighting their Advent candles around their dinner tables as well. It makes me feel connected to the bigger Church as a whole.
Do you celebrate Advent? If you’d like to begin, just start with any candle. We use a traditional wreath with one purple candles and one pink that mark the four weeks before Christmas. The pink is the last one to be used. We light our candle, read a portion of Scripture, and sing a hymn, such as “O Come, O Come Emanuel.” The Trapp Family we are not. But that’s okay. We aren’t performing. Our kitties are the only ones who hear us.
I will write more about Advent during the coming days. Do you have an Advent tradition?