How to Prepare Your Heart & Home for the Arrival of Advent

0 comments Posted on November 1, 2021

by Krystal Ribble

Growing up, the preparation for Christmas was never quite fun to me. I loved to celebrate each holiday to its fullest before moving on to the next one, but I have a mother who is so in love with Christmas, that all of her Christmas decor has to be put up by Thanksgiving. She had one exception: no Christmas lights were turned on until Thanksgiving night. She wanted to be prepared that as soon as Thanksgiving was over, she could enjoy Christmas in every single crevasse of the season. As a child, this annoyed me to no end. The beginnings of Christmas felt like work and like Thanksgiving was overshadowed. I would always say my mom was a “fallen elf,” and I could never really quite relate to her.

Now that I am a wife, and a mom of four, with a home of my own, I realize the amount of time it takes to prepare your home for Christmas and just how much you long to savor your hard work. I understand now why my mom wanted to enjoy every moment possible with her decorations and the magic of Christmas she created in her home.

As the years have passed, I have looked for ways to show my boys how we celebrate the coming of Jesus through this entire season. I cannot buy all my Christmas gifts the night before Christmas, and I cannot decorate my house the evening before and expect to be fully ready. I also cannot read the Christmas story and expect to be ready overnight for all this Advent season should mean to me.

I want to celebrate Advent leading up to Christmas so that my boys realize this season is not just about Santa Claus and receiving gifts. This season is allowing us time for the tilling of the ground in our hearts in order to receive the fullness of the birth of Jesus.

I want a slow and steady rhythm in my home at Christmas—one that daily prepares our hearts for the Savior to come.

Just as preparing your HOME for Christmas takes time, in the same manner, it takes time to prepare our HEARTS for the coming of our Savior.

I cannot prepare for the birth of Jesus overnight in my heart, I need time to unpack all that His coming has meant for me and for the world.

When I read through the stories we study in the Bible leading up to Christmas, I realize we navigate this season in five very specific ways.

The first thing we do is ANTICIPATE the coming of Jesus. In the Bible we have many accounts of prophets telling people of the coming of Christ. One account can be seen in Deuteronomy 18:15 when Moses says, “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you shall heed such a prophet” (NRSV). Moses was helping people realize there was someone to anticipate. We do this in our own way in our homes when we begin decorating or buying gifts for Christmas; we are anticipating this season and all that will follow.

After we anticipate the coming of Christ, we are able to celebrate the joy in His ARRIVAL. Isaiah was able to prophesy about the coming of Jesus, but he was also able to confirm it when he says in Isaiah 9:6, “For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (NRSV). We spend so much of our Christmas season anticipating the actual day of Christmas. I know for my children, that anticipation is often leading to the arrival of gifts. For many of us, that anticipation leads to the arrival of family in our homes. However, we have the unique opportunity for this anticipation to also be the anticipation of Jesus’ arrival and to celebrate what that means within the walls of our home.

As I mentioned above, celebrating Christmas is not something that you prepare for overnight. And just as you prepare before Jesus’ arrival, there are many things that happen once He is here. His birth is not the end of the story.

The third thing that I see happen when we celebrate this season of Advent is we are AWAKENED to who Jesus is. For each of us, this happens at different times. If you think about the Bible, Mary and Joseph both were awakened to who Jesus was at different times; and for them, it happened before He arrived. However, for many, this happened once He was here. One such group of people this was true for was the shepherds in the field. We always read their story at Christmas, but dissecting the scriptures about them has been eye opening to me. Luke 2:11-20 recounts these moments for us like this, “‘To you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!’ When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.’ So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them” (NRSV).
These shepherds, they were now awakened to who Jesus was after His arrival.

For us, we need to allow the Christmas season to ruminate in our hearts even after Christmas Day. If we are to truly gather the magnitude of His coming to earth, we need to allow this messaging to simmer long after we have taken the Christmas decor down.

The last thing I always notice when I am navigating Advent is how we recognize His ANOINTING as the Savior of the world. We saw this in the end of the story of the shepherds; how they returned to where they were praising and glorifying God. They got it. They understood His anointing after they were awakened to who He was. Later in Jesus’ life, He would be the one to tell us exactly who He was and what that anointing meant. In John 14:6 Jesus says, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

As I lead my family through Advent in my home, and weave in all the special Christmas traditions my children have come to love, I do so by walking them through the Anticipation, Arrival, Awakening, and Anointing of Jesus Christ. I have found these words to be the special markers that lead us from one point of Advent to another, as well as prepare the ground in our hearts for Jesus Himself. My home feels better this way. My decorations shine brighter this way.

How will you usher Jesus into your perfectly curated Christmas this year?

Krystal Ribble is a freelance writer and author of The Church’s Orphans and Love Me in the Waiting. She was also the writer behind Dexterity Books’ Dwell: Celebrating the Arrival of Advent at Home. She aims to breathe new life into and bring a modern understanding to the stories we’ve read about in the Bible all our lives, showing readers how those stories are still relevant today. Krystal earned a Bachelor of Science in Gerontology and Health Care Management from North Greenville University and Master of Arts in Christian Leadership from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary and Graduate School. She now lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband, Jared, and their four boys. Find out more about Krystal at www.krystalribble.com and by following @krystalribble on Instagram.

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