Katherine Ash
Advent Resources

What does Advent conjure up for you? Is it a calendar, with chocolates in it each morning or something more indulgent (alcohol, toiletries…) or do you do a reverse advent calendar and put aside some dry food or other goodies to drop off at the local food bank?

Whatever Advent brings up in your mind, do you understand the roots of it? Have you ever looked at the history or reason behind it?

A (Very) Short History
Advent comes from the Latin “aventus" which means “coming”. This is a translation from a Greek word “parousia", commonly used to refer to the Second Coming of Christ. For Christians, the season of Advent anticipates the coming of Christ from three different perspectives. Historically it was a season of preparation before the feast of Epiphany (and the beginning of the church calendar), the early Christians spent 40 days in penance, fasting and prayer. Originally there was no connection between advent and Christmas. Advent wasn’t firmly connected with Christmas until the Middle ages. In the traditional church calendar, advent is the four Sundays leading up to Christmas, with 2 Sundays looking forward to the second coming of Jesus, and 2 Sundays looking back at the first coming of Jesus as a baby.

It is quite easy to overlook advent, dismissing it as part of a traditional church calendar, and miss the opportunity that there is to use this time to take us through the scriptures, to see how they have been fulfilled in Jesus, and how they will be fulfilled when He returns. I would argue that having context of where the birth of Jesus fits in the narrative of God’s plan for us, is vitally important!

There are lots of traditions that advent brings with it. I have pulled together some resources which might help to bring Jesus to the centre of the advent, and Christmas season for you. I have tried to include lots of links that might give you more information and inspire you to some advent ideas of your own.

Advent candles
Advent CandlesThese use a collection of 4 candles, usually around a circular wreath of greenery, and often with a central candle. Each Sunday during Advent, an additional candle is lit, each with a special significance. There are specific readings associated with each of the candles.
Advent I - Waiting For Christ To Come - (First Sunday) - Purple candle, signifying that "God is Hope”
Advent II - The Messiah Is Coming - (Second Sunday) - Purple candle, signifying that "God is Love”
Advent III - Rejoice God Is With Us - (Third Sunday) - Pink Candle, signifying that “God is joy”
Advent IV - God Keeps His Promises - (Fourth Sunday) - Purple candle, signifying that “God is peace”
Christmas Eve or Christmas Day - lighting of the white candle to signify that "Jesus has come!”

Jesse Tree
Jesse TreeThis is a depiction of the lineage of Jesus, and the ornaments that are added represented people, and illustrate stories from the Old Testament. There are lots of ways of doing this- stickers and drawings, ornaments, there are books that can be bought to guide you through this. The whole point is to take an overview and see how the Old Testament unfolds, and finds fulfilment in Jesus.

Here are the links to a useful website which gives the various readings for the four Sundays in Advent, complete with the the symbols in the advent wreath and the Jesse Tree:

Week One:
Week Two:
Week Three:
Week Four:

Here is another resource website with symbols you can use & the bible verses which are associated with them - all in a helpful table! 

The Jesus Story Book Bible - Advent Readings - For Children
The Jesus Story Book Bible has 24 great stories to read over advent, 21 from the Old Testament that are tied into the story of the birth of Jesus and 3 from the New Testament. There is a website which includes a list of the stories which you can download and print. This is highly recommended not just for children, this particular junior bible appears on a number of leadership recommended reading lists!  


Sally Lloyd-Jones has recently published an Advent Guide to accompany her the book. This is freely available in PDF format: 

There is also a one page resource with the titles of the relevant stories which you can print out and use to guide you through here: 

** another update - Sally Lloyd-Jones has recently released an updated Advent Guide here: 

Some Other Resources

  • 76 Ideas for Advent - (I don’t necessarily agree with all the theology on this page but it includes some helpful suggestions…)
  • 10 Christmas Picture Books -  (it can be really helpful to read a story from different perspectives and to help you and any small children from becoming bored with the same book!)
  • Top 10 Advent & Christmas Ideas - (excellent resource)
  • Shaving Foam Cloud Prayers - (a fun prayer activity)
  • Suggested activities for your children depending on their preferred learning style -
  • Downloadable Advent Christmas Story Calendar Postcards - (written by some friends of ours)
Resources for Adults

Thanks for reading! Why not read my follow up article Advent Resources #2?