Venturing into Advent

For many of us, Christmas is a frenzied time of shopping, parties and gift giving.  Spending time in quiet reflection may be a luxury for some.  Here are some things even the busiest person can add to Advent to bring in more of the blessings of the season.

- Advent begins on the first Sunday Dec. 2, 2012 and it is a time of preparation for Christmas.  Before family meals, pray "Prepare our hearts to have more of you Lord".

- Sing Christmas carols in the car during traffic.  The ride will go much faster.

- Decorating your home with your family is a good time to share the meanings of each symbol. 

  • The Christmas tree is evergreen symbolizing hope.  Being cut down and raised year after year, the tree reminds us of Christ's resurrection.
  • Ham is served at dinner to celebrate the triumph of good over evil.  The slaying of wild boars of olden times represented God's victory over sin, death and the enemy.
  • Bells are used to signify joy and celebration.  During Bible times, Jewish priests had bells on the hem of their clothing.(Exodus 28:31-35) Jesus' coming shows us that He is our High Priest who took upon Himself our sins so we can come close to God.
  • Candy canes have the shape of the Shepherd's staff.  These help us call to mind how Jesus is the Good Shepherd.
  • The Gingerbread Man was shaped and baked, just like we are created in God's image.
  • Christmas bows and ribbons signify the brotherhood of man bound together in peace through Christ's coming.
  • Snowmen under the heat of the sun represent icy, stony hearts that are melted by the knowledge of God's love.
  • Red and green colors surround us at Christmas time.  Red reminds us of Jesus' blood shed on the cross for love of us.  Green, on the other hand, the color of leaves, plants and grass represents life. Together the colors reflect God's life given up for us so that we may have eternal life.

- During travel, as you see the twinkling lights all around the metropolis, imagine yourself looking at the star guiding the magi to Christ.  Think of your destination as a place where you will meet God (in the people, place, situations that you will face).

- While wrapping your Christmas gifts, say a blessing or a prayer intention for the person receiving that gift.

- When preparing meals for parties and reunions, meditate through your actions.  While mixing different ingredients, think of how you can more peaceably walk with others.  While heating the food evenly, think of the attention you are giving your children (or younger friends), if all their needs are being met. 

- For every concern that crosses your mind, replace it with a grateful thought.

- Allot one meal as the "thinning dessert" time.  Instead of having dessert that night, save the cost of the dessert and give it to someone needy.

- When in the grocery, grab some cookies or packed biscuits and store them in the car.  Spread some cheer to a beggar through these simple offerings.

- Every morning when thinking of what to wear and going through your clothes, take note of the those items you never get to wear. Put these in a nearby bag.  When the bag is full, donate to a nearby shelter.

- Cooking for the family?  Make a bigger batch for people who serve us every day - the street sweeper, police, security guards, etc.

What do you do during Christmas to make it more meaningful?

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