Yeah, I know. It's the middle of January, but December really got away from us this year with the Muslim Eid al Adha falling right before Christmas (we had lots of Eid visits to make to our friends and it took away from our Christmas preparations and celebrations), and we never got to finish up our family Advent services. There are six of them, one for each week of Advent, one for Christmas Eve, and one for Christmas Day, and we're never very particular about doing them on Sundays, since we're not always home the same nights each week. We just try to make sure we get them all done before Christmas. This year, we failed, but we decided to go ahead and do them as we have time, especially since the house is still decorated waiting for one last local friend to visit and see it all decked out. Tonight, we celebrated Christmas Eve. :-/
So, while I was cleaning up the files on the computer, making sure I'd fixed all the typos I'd noticed (which I discovered I'd actually done last year, I think they're finally in their [mostly] final form), I thought I'd put them up here to share. I'll try to remember to link back to them next November at a little more normal time to think about Advent.
But first, a little background.
Both ML's family and my own celebrated Advent as we were growing up, and his mother (MHK) synthesized some resources into an Advent service that they used. I took it and adapted it, because our Advent wreath (kind of different in that it is wrought iron that we've woven silk ivy and poinsettias into) has the candles labeled around the edge, and since that's not standardized, my mother-in-law's service didn't match the labels.
In the process of adapting the service to fit the wreath, I tweaked several things (the original service did not have Christmas Eve or Christmas scripts). The music included has evolved over the years, too. At one point, MHK included choruses with the hymns. We all found that those became dated too quickly, though, so we ended up dropping them and just sticking with hymns. As MHK had done, I included the full text of all of the Scriptures, except for the Luke 2 passage for Christmas morning. This makes it very simple to read through, since there are no Scriptures to look up. We have several sets of the service in (red and green) bradded folders, so the presentation is a little nice and relatively neat. Eventually, I might have them bound into actual books. During the Advent season, we keep the folders under the Advent wreath.
Each family member who is reading fluently takes turns reading the sets of lines (that will make more sense when you look at the actual service) with ML reading the opening and closing sets. The older children take turns lighting the candles and younger children get to blow them out. We sing the songs acapella (primarily because I found it too difficult to manage all of the children while ML played guitar ), but I'm working on a version that will include chords, since we will probably want that at some point, too.
I also eventually developed an all-in-one version to be done in a single sitting. When ML and and his sisters were in boarding school, they would do one candle each night several nights in a row to get them done after they came home for Christmas break. When we were early married, sometimes we wouldn't be together with his family even that many nights, so it got a little cramped. The all-in-one would have be perfect for times like those, since it's abbreviated. I actually put it together, though, because we have friends here who want to be a part of our Christmas celebrations to see what they're all about, and this was one thing we could do with them. To this end, I also re-worked the all-in-one with NIrV (NIV at a 3rd grade reading level) verses to be more easily understood by second language learners.
All that is to say, here are our Advent services, if anyone can use them.
Oh, and there's a brief section on the history of Advent included at the end of each one, too.