Years ago, we bought a refillable Advent calendar, thinking it would be a great way to avoid morning sugar crashes in December. But what do you know, it didn't take long for me to figure out that in my knee-deep-in-diapers stage, the easiest thing to fill the calendar with was chocolate.
It's a few years later, and my children are not so little any more. I have more wiggle room in my schedule to actually plan something beyond buying chocolates at the grocery store, and we also have noticed how sugar negatively impacts our children's health, so we have extra incentive to find another way to mark this important season.
This year, I've realized that cultivating an atmosphere of worship this Advent season is far more meaningful than merely counting down the days until presents. This year, we'll fill out Advent calendar with worship-focused activities to prepare our hearts for Christmas.
Worship Centered Advent
For each of the 24 days of Advent, I'll write a little note on paper, and slip it into the corresponding pocket. I'll choose one activity per each list below each week, meaning we'll have 3-4 activities per each list throughout the course of Advent. See the worship-centered themes and activities below-
We can worship by making something beautiful, reminding ourselves that our Creator made us to be creative. Homemade gifts and ornaments are always enjoyable to make, and treasures to remember. Here are some ideas for worship through creating.
- Make a Christmas ornament
- Bake cookies
- Make a wreath or table centerpiece
- Use pinecones to make a cute Christmas tree
- Paint or color a Christmas card for a family member
- Make watercolor art
“He has filled them with skill to do all manner of work of the engraver and the designer and the tapestry maker, in blue, purple, and scarlet thread, and fine linen, and of the weaver — those who do every work and those who design artistic works.” (Exodus 35:35 NKJV)
Worshiping through music doesn't only mean singing during the three songs at church on Sunday. We can worship through music on our own or with family members.
- Learn a new Christmas song using a musical instrument or just your voice
- Listen to a song that is specifically for Advent (expecting Jesus's arrival). There's a great list here.
- Go Christmas caroling
- Light candles and sing an advent song at dinner
- Make a video singing a Christmas song, and send it to a loved one
"Sing to him, sing praises to him;
tell of all his wondrous works!" Psalm 105:2 ESV
Reading the Bible is a beautiful way to worship, and it feeds the soul as well.
- Read Isaiah 9:2-6
- Meditate on Luke 2
- Isaiah 11:1-10
- Malachi 3:1-6
- Read John 1:1-8
6"All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,..." 2 Timothy 3:16
Remembering to pray and encouraging your children to pray is a beautiful way to celebrate Advent!
- Learn and use the ACTS prayer model (explained here)
- Find a news story about a different part of the world and pray for people there
- Pray for friends and family members
- Practice prayers of thanksgiving, thanking God for the gift of his son
"Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice!" Psalm 141:2
Worship through thanksgiving by remembering all the things your thankful for, and remembering how the Gospel changes/saves your life.
- Keep an Advent gratitude journal. Devote one page of the journal to each day in Advent, and have each family member write what they're thankful for.
- Set an alarm three times a day and note what you're thankful for
- Write a thank-you note to someone who has helped you know Jesus better
"Wondrously show your steadfast love, O Savior of those who seek refuge from their adversaries at your right hand." Psalm 17:7
Giving and Serving
I think this one is tricky because giving should be willful, and not forced. But, Advent is a great opportunity to give WITH your children, not force them to give reluctantly.
- Give a gift card to a stranger or someone you know
- Make bags to give to homeless people when you're out and about
- Find an organization that you trust and donate to it
- Sponsor a family and give them Christmas gifts
- Pack an Operation Christmas Child Box
- Bring a gift to a neighbor
"Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." 2 Corinthians 9:7
It's debatable whether or not feasting is a form of worship, but we know Jesus celebrated through feasting, so why would we?
- Prepare a feast to enjoy with friends or family
- Make different types of cookies and share them
- Invite friends over for a Christmas-themed tea party
"And they said to him, “The disciples of John fast often and offer prayers, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours eat and drink.” And Jesus said to them, “Can you make wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? 35 The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days.” Luke 5:33-35