The holiday season was the time when I learned how to lead my family devotionally. A pastor shared a devotional website with our family, and then we set up a tiny one-and-a-half-foot Christmas tree from the discount store in our living room. As the devotional challenged us, we hung a laminated paper ornament for each day of Advent. Each ornament on the tree corresponded to the story of a person from Jesus’ family tree. By reading through the devotionals I printed out and hanging the ornaments, we developed a habit of reading the Bible together as a family that stuck with us beyond that first year.
Does your local church or family have a devotional path that you walk each Advent season. If not, take advantage of this holiday season to build new discipleship habits on top of the family traditions you’re already keeping. Last year, I wrote about Advent habits and provided a list of resources that I thought you might find helpful. Here is a list of five additions that I’d add to that list for the coming year:
- More than a devotional, the Advent Blocks set provides a daily visual and tactile reminder of the Advent season. The wooden blocks are numbered for each day of Advent, and the symbols on each block correspond with the days in the accompanying devotional, The King is Coming.
- Brite Families, the homeschool program of Awana International, provides tools for parents to have 30-minute discipleship conversations with their children. Their free Advent resource, “The Promise of a Savior,” is a five-week family resource that will equip parents, grandparents, and guardians to lead intentional time and conversation about God’s promises from the Garden of Eden to the manger in Bethlehem, and celebrate the Savior who came to conquer sin and is coming again. Each week includes a video lesson, devotional, Scripture reading, fun and age-appropriate activities, questions to spur on conversations, and ways to live out what is being learned.
- If you’re looking for a simple daily reading, Scott James’s The Expected One: Anticipating Jesus in All of Advent (B&H Books, 2021), is a perfect resource. These revised and updated daily devotions, which can be used by both families and individuals, are meaningful (and doable!) reminders of the true gift of Christmas.
- Barbara Reaoch’s A Better Than Anything Christmas (The Good Book Company, 2020) explores 25 reasons why Jesus came. Each day, there is a passage to read together, questions to think about, an explanation, and a prayer. There are also age-appropriate application questions, some for younger children and some for older children, as well as journaling space so that each family member can write or draw their own response to what God
- Sarah Rice’s Tracing Glory: The Christmas Story Through the Bible (10 Publishing, 2021) is a 24-day Advent devotional. It begins by looking back at the creation of the world in the book of Genesis and ends by looking forward to the new creation in the book of Revelation, tracing the glory of Jesus Christ from start to finish. In each day’s reading, there is a key Scripture to look up, a devotional commentary to read, and a helpful summary highlighting the key point and showing how that particular Bible passage points to Jesus. This is a book to treasure that young children will grow into through the years as well as a flexible resource that can be used with children of all ages.
- And finally, Champ Thornton’s Wonders of His Love: Finding Jesus in Isaiah (New Growth, 2021) is the perfect resource for busy families with younger children. Each week of Advent focuses on one of Isaiah’s key images — the Light, the Branch, the Shepherd, and the Savior. Each week also includes fun stories, discussion questions, crafts, recipes, games, and suggestions for family service projects.
Advent season always seems to draw our family back to time in the Word together. After all, our Bible-story Christmas tree and the other Advent devotionals we’ve collected over the years are kept with our boxes of Christmas decorations. And when the kids see them, they ask, “Which book are we reading this year?” Maybe this Advent season will be one where your family starts a devotional routine. My prayer is that one of these six resources will help you to begin that tradition this year.