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Finding Harmony in Advent: Day 3

December 3, 2013


When a fight almost broke out at church

For many years at our church, in addition to lighting the Advent wreath each Sunday, the children put up Velcro-backed animals and characters on a special Advent banner depicting the nativity, with different characters added each Sunday during Advent.

But one day a fight almost broke out between two brothers. “I WANT TO PUT ONE UP TOO!” wailed Paul loudly.

“There aren’t any more figures to put up today,” the young college girl doing the children’s time tried to reason with Paul. Older brother Alex quickly indicated to Paul that he could share the job of putting up the coveted Joseph figure.  Alex lifted his little brother up to reach the banner. The adults all breathed audible sighs of relief—almost an awww moment.

Such are the sweet little disasters of Christmas, when everyone holds their breath and then somehow everything turns out okay and you know you’ve just witnessed something precious.

It is at home where the real wars break out over who gets to light the candle, or who gets to strike the match.

Why bother? Why keep Advent in families? Because it is one way to hold, even if just for a season, family worship or a quiet period of reading, singing and reflection in the home. It is a way to help keep kids’ minds off of Santa Claus and gift lists, and back on the original reason for Christmas. It is a way to help children hear familiar Bible stories year after year, today highlighting the courageously quiet way Joesph responded to Mary’s news:

Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1: 18-21

We’ll look more at Joseph’s difficult dilemma tomorrow.

Keeping Advent traditions is a way of holding holy moments in your household, whether it is just you, or you and your spouse, or a passel of not-so-holy munchkins.

How do you keep Advent in your home?


My photos each day in this Advent series feature figures from a handmade advent calendar I picked up long ago at a yard sale. It quickly became the kids’ favorite, and a permanent addition to our Advent collection and celebrations. I hope you enjoy watching the parade of characters on this virtual advent calendar.


This story was first published in my regular syndicated weekly newspaper column, Another Way, see   (which can be used in any local paper, email me for details).


From → Faith, Family Life

  1. Caro - Claire Wiles permalink

    Years ago when our children were young, as a family we took part in lighting the candles at one of the advent services. Several years later we also took part in a service as the grandparents with our when our so’s family did the same thing.
    Also back in the early days we had a workshop at our church and as a family made a Christmas banner to hang in our home. Each of the children made pieces out of felt and we made a lovley manger scene.
    Again advancing ahead several years later at one of our family Chimaeras dinner gatherings (13 grandkids later as well), we set up tables and brought felt and other things to use for trim and let the children break up into age related groups and they made new banners for our new Christmas decorations .
    These are special things to have now.
    Now we are into the great grandchildren cycle, we may have to start a new round when they get a little bit bigger .

    • Caro-Claire, thanks for these memories too! So you actually have 13 grandchildren?? I feel like I’m just starting out! Maybe you told me that before.

      Christmas items are indeed special–not all, sometimes I get rid of things; but those that have special memories or associations are keepers.

  2. Athanasia permalink

    We just have the Advent wreath I had growing up, a gold ring to hold the candles and I add evergreen trimmings to it. For devotions, we use THE DAILY BREAD. Only have one child left at home and she just turned 20. We have a hanging Advent calendar with a tree and pockets for ornaments that stick onto the tree…it is really designed to count down to Santa, but we have the angel go on the last. Daughter still adds the ornament every day.

    • Isn’t it neat when they still want to add the daily ornaments even when 20 years old? I plan to share a photo of our advent calendar that these little felt characters go on–watch for it toward the end of the week. Thanks for your comments!

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