Every year, my family and I look forward to the different seasons. As I write this, my family is getting ready for Christmas. We have begun to develop our own family traditions, like getting our Christmas tree, baking cookies, and reading the Christmas story together. Each season brings its own unique rhythm, weather, traditions, and memories. Spring, summer, fall, and winter can be powerful reminders of the seasons and rhythms of the spiritual life. The Christian life has different seasons, just as nature has seasons. Each of these seasons remind us of the multidimensional nature of discipleship.
The early church began to remember the various themes of the gospel of Jesus Christ by celebrating different seasons of the Christian year. By the fourth century, churches in the Holy Land began to develop liturgies to mark the days of Holy Week and Easter at holy sites to commemorate the life and death of Jesus. Pilgrims began to travel to Jerusalem to participate in these ceremonies and eventually brought the practices back with them to their countries of origin. Today, many different Christian traditions continue to place an important role on remembering the seasons of the Christian year.
The church year involves an annual cycle of seasons including Advent, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, Pentecost, and Ordinary. Each season has its own unique set of prayers and themes that center on the gospel of Jesus Christ and prepare us for our journey of faith. Here is a quick overview of the seasons of the church calendar and their meanings that will help your family celebrate each season in the home.
The season of Advent marks the beginning of the church year for Christians all over the world. It begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day, which is the Sunday nearest November 30, and ends on Christmas Eve (December 24). During Advent, we prepare our hearts for the mystery of the incarnation by focusing on the virgin birth and the faith of the Virgin Mary, the shepherds, and the wise men.
Advent is my favorite season of the Christian year. I love the colors, sights, and smells of the season. Advent reminds us of the mystery of the virgin birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. Here are a few ideas to help you celebrate the season together.
1. Make an Advent wreath with your children. Making an Advent wreath can be fun and easy. Each week there is a different candle, scripture, and prayers.
2. Make a Jesse tree, which is a depiction in art of the ancestors of Christ.
3. Set up or create a nativity set with your children. One of the simplest ways to remember the Christmas story with your children is to enact the Christmas story by setting out a nativity set.
4. Visit a nursing home and sing carols to residents.
5. Take some time to make homemade decorations and decorate the Christmas tree together.
6. Shop and give gifts to a child or a family in need.
7. Go caroling in your neighborhood with your family or other church members.
8. Take a night and talk about what Advent means to you.
9. Read the Christmas story together from the Bible.
10. Give a gift and change a life by sponsoring a child or giving an animal or a micro loan through an organization like Compassion International or World Vision.
If you’re looking for more help in re-discovering a time of family worship, check out my new book, Grow at Home: A Beginner’s Guide to Family Discipleship.