Advent marks the beginning of the church year. It comes at the darkest time of the year, surrounding us with hope, peace, joy, and love. It invites us to anticipate the arrival of Jesus and the light he brings into the world.
Advent gives us a chance to step back from the cultural norm of gift lists, shopping, a frantic pace, decorations that overtake the house, and an expectation of “more.” Advent, for me, is not just a time to count down to Christmas, it is a time to prepare my heart and my home for a deeper connection to the Christ.
Our Advent traditions are pretty basic because I like to keep it simple. My first step is always to clean the house and look for things to donate. While I’m cleaning, I put away all the knick-knacks that normally sit around our house. I usually buy new cloth napkins (white and blue, see a thread?) The advent wreath is given a place of honor. I really like to use blue candles and I’ve contemplated using all white candles. This year I’m using 3 purple, 1 pink, and a white Christ candle that were part of an Advent activity at my church.
Each night during my Vesper devotions, I light the appropriate candles, say the Vesper service, and read the scriptures (I use the Book of Common Prayer for my daily reading) and finally I conclude with the week’s collect from the BCP. This adds less than a minute to my normal Vespers routine.