Advent is my favorite part of the liturgical year. I didn’t grow up in a church tradition that followed the liturgical calendar, and for years I associated Advent with a countdown to Christmas. But as I’ve discovered in my adulthood, Advent is so much more than a piece of chocolate every day. Rather, it’s an opportunity to remember Jesus’ first coming, and to anticipate his second coming.
Over the course of four weeks, readings from Scripture take us from Old Testament passages about the coming of the Messiah to New Testament passages about the announcement of Jesus’ arrival. In church services, these readings take place over four Sundays and center around the themes of Hope, Preparation, Joy, and Love.
But you don’t need to wait for a Sunday morning church service to read, reflect, and grow closer to God during Advent! What I especially love about this season is the many guides there are that serve as a personal invitation to step away from the holiday hustle and bustle and recenter our focus on God.
Below, I’d like to highlight a few Advent studies designed to help you remember and anticipate Jesus’ coming:
King of Kings Advent Devotional by Stephanie Little
“King of Kings is a 25-day advent devotional that takes you through God’s plan for a Savior, through the lens of Jesus’ genealogy in Matthew 1. Each day is short and sweet and suitable to do on your own, or with your family… and there are even 25 simple ornament ideas you can make to remind you of God’s amazing plan!”
Each day features:
* A daily reading
* Discussion questions
* An application section
* Instructions for an ornament
A Joy to Behold by Taryn Nergaard
“Have you lost your holiday joy? In this 15-day advent devotional, you’ll find Scripture, reflections, and a prayer to help you:
-Focus on gratitude
-Hold joy and sorrow together
-Let go of comparison
-Embrace your uniqueness
-Remember what Christmas is really about
This year, trade pressure for peace and rediscover the delight of the Christmas season.”
Miracles in the Meantime by Stephanie LaPreal Yttrup
“Take 31 days this December to re-discover the hope in the plans and promises God has for each of us. The redemption offered through the birth and life of Jesus Christ is really just the beginning, but there are ways we can see God move throughout the messiness of history to bring us hope and a future. Each day is filled with truth from Scripture, relevant stories, and opportunities to reflect on what God is inviting you into each day this holiday season.”
Wonderful: A Devotional Journal for the Christmas Season by Jessica Faith Hagen
“Journey back to the first Christmas and unwrap the hope, peace, joy and love Jesus gives, awaken the wonder of God sending His Son, and embrace the life He makes possible. 20 devotionals include Scripture readings that take you through prophecies of the Messiah’s coming, and their fulfillment in Jesus’ birth. With journaling pages and a lot of white space for creative reflection, prepare your heart to celebrate, and keep celebrating, the true meaning of Christmas.”
Waiting, Accepting, Journeying, Birthing by Sarah Bessey
This devotional offers prayers, scripture, and original essays as a digital download. The author notes: “This isn’t a typical cozy devotional looking to be positive and encouraging in five minutes or less. Some of these essays grapple with big themes and ask you to lean into difficult conversations. I’m sorry and you’re welcome!”
For You Love: the Advent Collection by Ronne Rock and Courtney Nowakowski
“Hope doesn’t disappoint. Love never fails. Joy is made full. Peace passes understanding. Light of the world. The Christ is come. For all of us. For each of us. Advent invites us to dwell in the moment that changed all moments. And “for you, love: the advent collection” is a tender and thoughtful way to celebrate hope, love, joy, peace – and light. With words, imagery, and illustrations, Ronne Rock and Courtney Nowakowski provide a place for you to reflect and respond to the mystery and majesty of the season.”
An Abiding Advent: Five Weekly Devotions to Awaken Your Heart to Emmanuel by Corella Roberts
(free for subscribers)
“Do you want to add deeper meaning to your family’s Christmas celebration? Do you long to know the nearness of Jesus amid the everyday chaos of life? This devotional is designed to help you do just that. Using the traditional Advent themes of hope, peace, love, and joy (plus a celebration of Christ on Christmas day!) each devotion awakens your heart to God’s presence through morning scripture meditation, an afternoon prayer, and evening reflection. Look beyond the shopping lists, the piles of cookies, and the full calendars, and you’ll find Him . . . Immanuel, God-with-us.”
Truth for a Parent’s Heart by Jodie Cooper
(free for subscribers)
“A free devotional for any parent wanting to be strengthened and encouraged in their role of discipling their kids this Advent. Walk through the Beatitudes with reflections and daily scriptures for meditation to help you feed your soul and lead your family.” This series is delivered to your inbox every Sunday!
Advent with St. Oscar Romero by Cameron Bellm
(free for subscribers)
Based on the homilies of St. Oscar Romero, this 55 page guide is available to you as a PDF to read digitally or to print out on your own. “The devotional covers the four Sundays of Advent and Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve to usher us into the Christmas season. Each homily is split into five short parts, with meditative prayer suggestions for each. There are no set days for the devotional—just come to it on whichever five days you can during the week. Ideally, you will hear the readings on Sunday and then be able to dwell deeply in them throughout the week. There is some space under each prayer suggestion for journaling or art, but it’s certainly not required. This is your Advent; this is your devotional. Use it in whatever way is most nourishing to you.”
This year, Advent begins November 29th. I can’t wait to dig into a meaningful devotional and celebrate that “God came to be with us once, and God is still with us, and God is coming again to set all things right” (in the lovely words of Sarah Bessey.) And if you’re looking for ways celebrate Advent with your kids, check out these 7 hands-on ideas even toddlers will love!
In the meantime, I’d love to have you along on the journey of faith and motherhood. Twice a month, I send “The Scoop” – a newsletter with links to helpful and encouraging articles and podcasts (and a dinner recipe thrown in for good measure!). Sign up below and you will receive my undying gratitude, and some free digital gifts!