O come, o come, Emmanuel

To free your captive Israel

That mourns in lonely exile here

Until the Son of God appears

We are people of promise. For over 2,000 years, hopeful Christians have been participating in this Advent season with longing hearts and watchful eyes. When Christmas arrives, we will celebrate the fulfillment of God’s promise: He will give us a way to draw near to Him.

At Providence we are each preparing in our own little ways, whether by being the lucky student who gets to light the candle on the classroom Advent wreath, reading from daily devotionals before class, or getting to open a small gift on the Advent calendar in the lower school.

In anticipation of the coming of our Lord, the PA community draws from rich and vast traditions in the Church. Mrs. Commers, our long-time librarian, explains how she prepares with the lower school students: “We certainly enjoy many a Christmas story in the library and we always talk about virtue, which appropriately is patience and kindness for December.”

An Advent project in the lower school, keeping track of the weeks leading up to Jesus’ birth.

In the third grade, Mrs. Steinbrueck puts up a Jesse tree for her students “The kids colored the ornaments for it, and we add two ornaments a day. There is a little reflection for each of the days.”  A Jesse tree helps connect the tradition of decorating a Christmas tree to the events in the days before Christ’s birth. The ornaments tell the story of God’s participation in human history in a unique and creative way. 

But the Advent preparations don’t just stop in the classroom. Upper school teacher Dr. Biebighauser says “My wife Meghan bought a Daily Advent deck of cards with suggestions for discussion topics related to the season and we take a minute at dinner time to talk about them.”

It isn’t a coincidence that this time of spiritual growth often brings families together. The moments of a family coming together to pray, discuss, and contemplate may be what this season is all about. These memories are what will last in the family long after the presents under the tree are unwrapped.

Upper school literature teacher Ms. Uppgaard explains, “My family used to do something called “Advent Angels”–similar to Secret Santas–and each of us would secretly pray for one of our siblings, and then give him/her a present on Epiphany to reveal our identity. It was pretty fun!”

Whether one does Advent calendars, wreaths, Jesse trees, or devotionals, it all comes back to the main purpose of the season: To watch, wonder, and wait for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas.