This post is part of the weekly series, “His Encouragement: Thursday Thoughts to Strengthen Your Soul.”
Image: A woman holds a cup of tea and reads her Bible. Black text on a green background reads, “Weekly Devotion: His Encouragement- Words from Scripture to Strengthen Your Soul.”
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
-Isiah 9:6, NIV
Merry Christmas! Well, I know that technically it is Thanksgiving, but I’ve been doing advent planning all day so I’m feeling very Christmas-y. On Tuesday, during the meeting for our church’s women’s group (The United Methodist Women), the lady leading devotions asked a very thought provoking question. “What would happen,” she asked, “If we woke up tomorrow with only the things that we had thanked God for today?”
It was a sobering thought. How often do we forget to be thankful for all the wonderful blessings in our lives? I know that I am just as guilty as the next person. I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I often forget to stop and give God thanks. It is so easy to get swept up in the hurried pace of and forget to give thanks to God.
More of what is important
Just like many other people, I often allow myself to get swept up in the busy rush of the holidays. During the holidays, we always want more (and I’m just as guilty as the next person). More cookies! More light so on tree! More decorations! More, more, more!
In contrast, instead of focusing on more of the secular we should be focusing more on the sacred. More hope! More love! More joy! More peace! And most especially, more Jesus!
That is why I was delighted with the idea of the reverse advent calendar. I did not come up with this idea myself. A friend of mine told me about it and since then I have seen it mentioned other places as well. I think that it is a wonderful idea to help all of us to remember to make room in our lives for more of what is truly important.
The Reverse Advent Calendar
When I was a child, I loved my Advent Calendar. Each day until Christmas I would open one of the little paper doors, read the Bible verse, and eat a piece of chocolate. In a normal Advent calendar, people count down the days until Christmas by taking something out of it. In contrast, with the reverse advent calendar, each day we put an item into the box that helps a local family or a local charity. By the end of Advent, we will have filled a box full of items to help people who are in need during this holiday season.
I contacted local charities in our town and asked what small items they needed. I also talked with some local families who I knew were facing challenges this holiday season. Using that information, I put together a reverse Advent calendar specifically designed for our church family. Some pieces will go to the UM Children’s Home, some to local families, some to Family Services, etc. I’m inviting people to bring their boxes back on December 22nd. For the last two days of advent, people have a task to complete instead of putting something in the box. Each week also has a prayer focus.
Making Your Own Reverse Advent Calendar
All you need is an empty box and a big heart for Jesus! The items that are included in a reverse Advent calendar are not meant to be expensive. I enjoy bargain hunting, and many of the items that I included in the reverse advent calendar I created can be found at a thrift shop (things like old worn out bluejeans that a local cuts into pieces to make warm quilts). Other items, such as macaroni and cheese or a can of soup, may even already be in your pantry.
The reverse Advent calendar is an activity that families can do together. Reverse Advent calendars can be as complex or as simple as you want them to be. Some versions of a reverse advent calendar simply include adding one nonperishable food item to the box and then donating that box to your local food bank at the end of December.CLICK HERE for another example of a reverse advent calendar.
This week, I am inspired by the greatest gift of all: The Christ Child. Jesus Christ was both a holy infant in a manger and a King on a Cross. He is the risen Lord, and his love inspires me to want to help others.
***In case you’re interested, the following is the reverse Advent calendar that I made for our church family as a PDF MORE reverse advent calendar 2019
Merry (Almost) Christmas!
This post is part of the series, “His Encouragement: Thursday Thoughts to Strengthen Your Soul.”
Now, it’s your turn! What Scripture verse is inspiring you this week? Let me know in the comments below!
Thursdays are always a really long day of the week for me. As a pastor, Sunday feels like the natural beginning of my week. By the time I get to Thursday, I am tired and drained. That’s why I’m excited to join with a group of blogging friends in order to offer you a weekly devotional which will be posted every Thursday.
Please be sure to check out the other great bloggers involved in the His Encouragement weekly series!