A Grown-Up Advent Calendar
By Debora Buerk
Editor, Here & Now
As a kid, I looked forward to receiving an Advent calendar from my parents each Christmas. It helped mark the days until Christmas, a very exciting time for me as a child. There are many Advent calendars, but they typically have “doors” for each day leading up to Christmas. Each day you open a door to reveal an image, a poem, a portion of a story (such as the story of the Nativity of Jesus), or a small gift, such as a toy or candy. Or, perhaps a Bible verse or Christian prayer, which can be incorporated as part of daily Advent devotions. But, as a kid, I was after the chocolate! It was nearly as torturous to wait until the next day to open another door for chocolate as it was to wait for Christmas Day.
German Lutherans used the first Advent calendar in the 19th and 20th centuries. Their use has since spread to other Christian denominations.
Traditional Advent calendars feature the manger scene, Saint Nicholas, or a winter scene, while others range in theme from sports to technology. They come in many forms, from a simple paper calendar with flaps covering each day to fabric pockets on a background scene to painted wooden boxes with cubby holes for small items. The Advent calendars of my early childhood years were homemade. Later on, different types of calendars were commercially available.
Advent calendars aren’t necessarily two-dimensional. Some European villages create Advent calendars on buildings or even “living” Advent calendars, with different windows in a building decorated for each day of Advent.
As an adult, I still look forward to beginning an Advent calendar–although these days, I prefer reading my calendar rather than eating it. I lean toward devotion-based, bound books with a reading for each day–such as Jesus Calling for Christmas and Richard Rohr’s Preparing for Christmas: Daily Meditations for Advent. Some I return to over and over. Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas has become a perennial favorite of mine.
I enjoyed reading my grandmothers’ copies of Christmas Ideals as a girl. If you haven’t guessed, it was the inspiration behind the design of Wondrous Light: Through Advent and Christmas, published by Selah Center last year.
A few months ago, as I searched for my grown-up Advent calendar, (I settled on The Carols of Christmas: Daily Advent Devotions on Classic Christmas Carols) and I wondered what an Advent Blog could look like.
So, I reached out to the writers from Selah’s Here & Now blog and the Selah Center books, asking them if they were up for the challenge of writing enough contemplative reflections for every day of Advent. The response was tremendous. Their writings started appearing in my inbox.
My grown-up Advent calendar has become a community calendar. Starting today, “Here & Now” will publish a special series of reflections for Advent and Christmas daily. Not only did I receive enough writings through Advent, but also for Christmas Eve to New Year’s. I considered it a gift from Selah to read these reflections, and I hope you will also receive them as gifts.
I hope you will look forward to opening a “new door” each day on the Here & Now blog and find a sweet treat to savor during Advent and Christmastide. I pray you’ll find my grown-up Advent calendar as delicious as the chocolate ones of my childhood. I can hardly wait until tomorrow…
I can smell the Christmas tree already.
A Moravian star is an illuminated decoration popular in Germany and places in Europe and America with Moravian congregations, notably the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania and the area surrounding Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
The first Moravian star dates back to the 1830s at the Moravian Boys’ School in Niesky, Germany, as a geometry lesson or project. That star had 110 points based on a rhombicuboctahedron. Today’s star features 26 points.
Listening into Advent
Join us for a Quiet Day to Prepare Our Hearts for the Season
Monday, November 28th, 2023
Rather than falling prey to the frenzied expectations of gift-giving and holiday gatherings that lose the meaning of Christmas, take this day to sit before the Holy One in quietness and rest. Whether in centering prayer or journaling, or any combination of spiritual practices, the time spent with God opens you up to enter into the season with a centered heart.
Through Advent & Christmas
Are you longing to reconnect with the true spirit and spirituality of Christmas? Through reflections from the Revised Standard Lectionary Bible verses, creative writings, and light-filled, inspiring photography, Wondrous Light guides us through Advent, preparing our hearts to celebrate Christ’s birth deeply. The centerpieces of Wondrous Light are the personal reflections, poetry, and art contributed by Selah community members which encourage us to contemplate God’s purpose, impact, and action in our lives, during the holiday season and far beyond.
A special section highlights the ministry of National Geographic Traveler photographer and pastor Andrew E. Larsen, whose ministry promotes seeking truth and making peace between Christians and Muslims. Larsen’s extensive international travel inspires him to photograph beautiful landscapes and compelling portraits of the people he meets. Additionally, he’s produced two documentaries on peacemaking, and his photography calendar has been enormously popular over the past decade.
The book is sold on Amazon, and the proceeds help enable the Selah Center to offer workshops and retreats. If you haven’t purchased one yet, don’t miss out. It’s truly a sweet treat.