Preparing Our Hearts for Christmas: What is Advent and Advent Bible Readings

What is Advent? If you want to learn more about the themes of Advent, discover some Advent Bible readings for you and your family, or find some Advent resources available in Canada, then keep reading! 


If you search “Advent Calendars,” you will find countless options: Lego, Barbie, slime, makeup, tea, jam, coffee, skincare, and chocolate (just to name a few). These calendars contain a surprise to look forward to each day of December leading up to Christmas.

The Advent calendar comes from 19th-century German Lutherans who would count down the twenty-four days to Christmas by drawing chalk lines on the doors of their homes each day, beginning on the first day of December. Candles were also used, with twenty-four placed in an ‘Advent Clock’ with a new one lit daily. By the turn of the 20th Century, cardboard calendars were printed with little doors or windows that opened to reveal something to do with the story of Christ’s birth.

What does Advent even mean? Is it just a countdown to Christmas?


What is Advent and why do we have advent calendars


What is Advent?


Advent, from the Latin adventus which means “coming” or “arrival,” marks the beginning of the liturgical year and serves as a time of preparation to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. It is also a time for us to remember that Jesus is coming again and to prepare for His second coming – anticipate and prepare.

This season encourages us to slow down, reflect, and prepare our hearts for the true meaning of Christmas.

Advent,  from the Latin adventus, means “coming” or “arrival,”

The Themes of Advent

Advent has distinct themes, each represented by a candle on the Advent wreath and celebrated each Sunday. These themes are:

1. Hope

The first candle symbolizes hope and the anticipation of Christ’s coming. It reminds us of our hope in Jesus as our Savior and Redeemer.

Read Isaiah 9:2-7 and contemplate the hope found in the promise of a coming Messiah.

2. Peace

The second candle represents peace, signifying the Shalom Christ brings to those who believe in Him.

Meditate on Luke 2:1-20 as you ponder the peace that Christ’s birth brings to the world.

3. Joy

The third candle reflects our delight in Jesus’ coming. It encourages us to rejoice in the promise of salvation.

Reflect on Luke 1:39-56 and find joy in Mary’s obedience and her song of praise.

4. Love

The fourth candle symbolizes love, emphasizing the incredible love God has shown us by sending His Son. It calls us to share this love with others during the Christmas season.

Consider John 3:16-17 and celebrate the incredible love of God in sending His Son for us.

5. Christ

The Christ candle, often placed at the center of the Advent wreath, represents the culmination of the Advent season—the birth of Jesus Christ, the Light of the World. This candle is typically lit on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day to celebrate the arrival of Christ.

Meditate on John 1:1-5

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him, all things were made; without him, nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

John 1:1-5 (NIV)

Advent scene

Christmas Bible Readings for Your Family


Here are some Christmas passages to read this Christmas:

Check out our Christmas Bible Readings for the Family post for more Christmas Bible passages to read during Advent.

Being Intentional During Advent

In our fast-paced, consumer-driven culture, getting caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season is easy. Advent encourages us to be intentional about our preparations for Christmas.

Here are some ways to be intentional during Advent:

1. Set aside time for daily Bible reading: Dedicate time daily to read the Bible, pray, and reflect on the Advent themes.

2. Create an Advent calendar: Make an Advent calendar with Bible verses, prayers, or acts of kindness to do each day leading up to Christmas.

3. Attend Advent services: Participate in Advent services at your church or watch online if in-person attendance is impossible. Perhaps even ask your pastor if your family can help light the candles or do the Advent reading on Sunday.

4. Limit distractions: Reduce the noise and busyness of the season by spending less time on social media and more time in prayer and reflection.


Family happy at Christmas



Family Advent Ideas

Advent is an excellent time to involve the entire family in preparing for Christmas. Here are some family-friendly ideas:

1. Make an Advent wreath: Light the Advent candles as a family each Sunday and discuss the week’s theme. Your family can have fun making the wreath with decorations that you don’t use on your Christmas tree, or run to the local craft/dollar store and let your children pick a few decorations and candles to make your wreath.

2. Read Scripture together: Read the suggested Bible passages for each Sunday of Advent and discuss their significance. Also, check out our great selection of Christmas resources for children and families.

3. Put your faith in action: Look for ways your family can do acts of kindness, like making care packages for those in need or visiting an elderly neighbour.

4. Christmas nativity scene: Set up a nativity scene. Have your children interact regularly with the nativity by retelling different parts of the Christmas story. Another fun idea is to hide Mary and Joseph around the house each day and tell the children to find them as they journey to Bethlehem.

Advent is a season of anticipation and reflection. Don’t let the busyness of Christmas take away from the true reason for the season. If you have children, be extra intentional in making family Bible time a priority.

Christmas Promotions

Advent Bible Resources

Here are some Bible reading resources from Scripture Union Canada available at ChristianBooksCanada.ca

Advent Resources for Adults

iRejoice ($7.95)– Advent is a time for preparation, hope and joy – drawing us progressively closer to the anticipated arrival of Christ.  Interactive and celebratory, iRejoice tells the Christmas story with creativity and vitality. Take a Look


Christmas Books for Children and Families


What’s For Dinner? Magazine – Christmas Edition ($10) – this interactive book is packed with activities for your whole family: seek and finds, riddles, conversation starters, games, colouring pages and 4 family Advent devotionals. Your family will explore the four themes of Advent together in fresh and fun ways.

Christmas Ornaments ($2.95)– these sit on the tree like an ornament and tell the Christmas story from a character’s perspective. Beautifully illustrated, short reads that decorate your tree. My daughter loves to pull them off the branches of our tree regularly and brings them to me for storytime. Take a Look

Christmas Bible Storybook ($4.95) – my preschooler loves this little series. Fun pictures and a simple retelling of the Christmas story. Take a Look

Christmas Family Time ($4.95)– this colourful little book is filled with activities and Bible readings for families to do in the days leading up to Christmas.  It has fun activities that help children enter into the Christmas story, like asking every family member what their first bed was and comparing it to Jesus’ first bed. Take a Look

Christmas Alphabet ($4.95) – Discover the Christmas story from A to Z with sweet couplets and a “find the ___” activity for every page! Take a Look

Guardians of Ancora Christmas Bible Comic ($3.00) – A Christmas story comic that kids will love to read again and again! Take a Look

The Story of Christmas Sticker Book ($7.95) – An interactive storybook where children illustrate each page using stickers! Take a Look

Whatever your Christmas traditions may be, we hope that at some point, you are opening the Bible as a family and reading the Christmas story together! Make Christmas Bible reading your family tradition.

Visit Our Holiday Shop! 


Related Posts: Christmas Bible Readings for the Family

© Scripture Union Canada, 2021

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