Advent and Christmas Seasons in the Home
As our culture has advanced from television to video cassettes to DVDs and now streaming platforms, we have moved further away from oral tradition. For generations, the family history was passed down orally. Few families had written histories that documented events and relationships beyond the “Family Bible.” Most records of the family history were handed on as the family gathered together for conversation (and food). While there are many challenges associated with the pandemic, it has afforded families time together for such conversation that has become increasingly less frequent with all of the other activities. During this season of Advent and our coming celebration of our Savior’s birth, now is a perfect time for our homes to be filled with conversations about faith, families and our Lord Jesus Christ.
When our daughter was small, one year we used a Jesse Tree devotional book as a chance to teach our daughter about God’s family. Each night she was able to place the various “ornaments” associated with the members of Jesus and Jesse’s family. Not unlike how the Easter Vigil connects the Old Testament stories of deliverance, the people and events highlighted through the Jesse Tree remind us that God’s plan from the beginning was to send a descendant of Adam and Eve to redeem them and God’s people who clung to the promise of a Messiah.
Many congregations this year will not have all of their usual Advent and Christmas services and programs. However, this is a great time for families to gather in their homes and put down their phones and tablets and spend some time listening to the stories of God’s plan for His people. Like our family members who have gone before us, we can gather by candlelight for prayer and song, quiet and meditation as we recall how God sent His Son Jesus to restore His fallen creation.
There are many devotional resources available to help you observe the Advent and Christmas seasons. There are also many wonderful traditions that can be observed in the home to teach children and adults about a family that goes back from Joseph and Mary to Daniel, David, Moses, Noah all the way back to our first parents. If you need help finding a resource, just ask your pastor. However, a hymnal and an Advent devotion (from Concordia Publishing House or Lutheran Hour Ministries) is a great place to start.
May the Word of Christ dwell in our homes richly this blessed Advent season as we await our Savior’s coming as the Babe of Bethlehem and His coming again as the King of Glory. God’s blessings to your family as you read, mark, learn and inwardly digest this Word this Advent season.
Fraternally in Christ,
President Lee Hagan
Rev. Dr. R. Lee Hagan was elected as the fifth president of the Missouri District-LCMS in 2015. He is a 1992 graduate of Concordia College (now University), Seward, Nebraska. He graduated from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis with a Master of Divinity in 1996 and Doctor of Ministry in 2011. Dr. Hagan served as associate pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Evansville, Indiana from 1996-2002. In 2002, he was called to serve as senior pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Concordia, Missouri until he was elected district president. Additionally, he served as the Interim Director of LCMS Rural and Small Town Mission from 2011-2012. He has previously served as Missouri District first vice-president from 2012-2015, fourth vice-president from 2011-2012, and chairman of the Board for Congregational Services from 2006-2011. He has presented workshops and retreats on a host of ministry topics including elders, rural ministry, outreach and ministry to inactives. He has written articles for Lutheran Witness, Concordia Historical Quarterly and Missio Apostolica. He has led mission trips to Cambodia, China, Guatemala and the Bahamas. Dr. Hagan is married to Jill (nee Johnson), who works as a speech-language pathologist. They have two children, Caroline and Jack.