Enrich Your Christmas Season by Honoring the Themes of Each Week of Advent

The anticipation of a wonderful event can almost be as delicious as its arrival. So it is with Advent season. As we move closer to the birth of Jesus, hope, faith and excitement grows. This is why each week of Advent has a theme that reflects these emotions that certainly must have been felt thousands of years ago in anticipation of the coming of our Lord.

Below we’ll dive into those weekly Advent themes and the common traditions and  the symbols that accompany them, including:

Pinecone Advent Wreath

Advent wreaths and candles: This tradition allows us to follow the progress of the season by lighting a candle on each Sunday of Advent and contemplating its meaning as it relates to the birth of Jesus. As we move through the season, a new candle is lit, bringing more and more light. So it is with the arrival of our Lord. As He comes closer to us, our world brightens. Here we’ll share suggestions of activities and prayers from About Catholicism.

jesse-tree-banner-kit
Pictured: Jesse Tree Banner Kit

The Jesse Tree: This tradition reveals Christ’s ancestry through illustrations that represent the people, prophesy and events leading up to His birth. It speaks to Isaiah 11: 1:  “But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom.” Here we’ll share recommendations.

Week One: Hope

Sunday, December 1 through Saturday, December 7, 2019

Thousands of years ago, the faithful held fast to the prophecies that the Messiah would arrive, and they ardently hoped that God would fulfill His promises to them. The first week of Advent honors that longing. Church sermons may exhort us to contemplate His coming and to reach out to Him knowing that He will lead us through the darkness.

Advent Wreath Traditions

Before dinner or the evening prayers, the youngest child lights one purple candle. The father, or head of the family, says this prayer:

“Bestir, O Lord, Thy might, we pray thee and come; that, defended by Thee, we may deserve rescue from approaching dangers brought on by our sins, and being set free by Thee, obtain our salvation. Who livest and reignest, with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.”

Keep the candle lit through the evening meal or prayers.

Jesse Tree Traditions

Set up the Jesse tree on Sunday. This can be a banner or image, branches or actual tree. Each day, add an ornament symbolizing a person or story from the Bible.

Week Two: Preparation

Sunday, December 8 through Saturday, December 14, 2019

We are called to prepare for the coming of the Lord. Sermons may focus on the messages of repentance and forgiveness that John the Baptist preached as he prepared the way for Jesus. During this week, we are asked to call on God to move us to action for He will answer if we do so.

Advent Wreath Traditions

Before dinner or the evening prayers, the oldest child lights two purple candles. The father, or head of the household, says this prayer:

“Stir up our hearts, O Lord, to prepare the ways of Thine only-begotten Son, that through His coming we may be worthy to serve Thee with purified minds. Who livest and reignest, with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.”

Keep the candles lit through the evening meal or prayers.

Jesse Tree Traditions

Add these ornaments each day:

Week Three: Joy

Sunday, December 15 through Saturday, December 21, 2019

The week begins with Gaudete Sunday. This is the turning point in Advent where we move from hope and preparation to rejoicing. Gaudete means “rejoice” in Latin. The spirit of the Advent celebration lightens. This week is a time to be joyous because salvation is at hand.

Advent Wreath Traditions

Before dinner or the evening prayers, the mother lights the rose-colored candle plus two purple candles and says this prayer:

“Incline Thine ear to our prayers, O Lord, we beseech Thee; and make bright the darkness of our minds by the grace of Thy visitation. Who livest and reignest, with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.”

Keep the candles lit through the evening meal or prayers.

Jesse Tree Traditions

Add these ornaments each day:

Week Four: Love

Sunday, December 22 through Tuesday, December 24th, 2019

In this last week before Christmas, we focus on God’s love as we prepare for the Good news. After all, there is no greater Love than His. Sermons may focus on the love and faithfulness of Joseph to both God and Mary, for even though Jesus was God’s child, Joseph listened to God and cared for Him as his own.

Advent Wreath Traditions

Before dinner or the evening prayers, the father lights all four candles and says this prayer:

“Bestir, O Lord, Thy might, we beseech Thee, and come; and with great power come to our aid, that, by the help of Thy grace, that which is hindered by our sins may be hastened by Thy merciful forgiveness. Who livest and reignest, with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.”

Keep the candles lit through the evening meal or prayers.

Jesse Tree Traditions

Add these ornaments each day:

By celebrating each week of Advent, we add much-needed spiritual depth to the Christmas season. We transform what may have been a one- or two-day gift-giving celebration into an entire month of recognizing and honoring the faithfulness of God.

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