Slowing down for Advent

We don’t have a big family or tons of events we attend for Christmas so physically rushing around has never really been an issue for me. The rushing I experience during the season is often mental “rushing.” My mind races over all the things I should do or be able to do but can’t, for various reasons.

This year I saw a way to remind myself to slow down for Advent, the weeks leading up to Christmas, when three photographers I follow on Instagram offered a photography inspiration guide. The goal of the guide is to slow down and really take in each moment of the days leading up to Christmas by photographing the small and simple moments with our families. The guide, The Advent Inspiration Guide was offered by Ginger Unzueta, Mae Burke, and Kyla Ewert.


The prompts in the guide are helping me to slow down my mental thought processes this season but also to think more about what Advent is, or should be. I’m finding it is also reminding me that cutting things out that complicate life it makes it easier to truly enjoy each day instead of rush through it.

As I thought about this project I began to think about what the word Advent means and became curious about the history of it. Originally, Advent was not held around the Christmas season, but was simply around a time leading up to the feast of Epiphany, when new Christians were baptized in January.

“During this season of preparation, Christians would spend 40 days in penance, prayer, and fasting to prepare for this celebration; originally, there was little connection between Advent and Christmas,” according to

It was the Roman Christians who began to tie Advent, which means “coming” in Latin, to the second coming of Christ. By the Middle Ages Advent was tied to Christmas. Today we recognize Advent as being a time to slow down, to reflect on what is to come through Christ and where we are in our own lives.

“The promise for Israel and the promise for the church is Jesus Christ; he has come, and he will come again. This is the essence of Advent,” writes about Advent.

“Unfulfilled and fulfilled promise are related to each other, as are dawn and sunrise. Both promise and in fact the same promise. If anywhere at all, then it is precisely in the light of the coming of Christ that faith has become Advent faith, the expectation of future revelation. But faith knows for whom and for what it is waiting. It is fulfilled faith because it lays hold on the fulfilled promise.” – Karl Barth

Our family has not attended a lot of Christmas events this year but we have participated in a couple holiday-related activities, including baking cookies to give to local police officers and taking my dad’s Christmas star up to the field. Beyond that we’ve been enjoying simple moments like my daughter playing with the nativity scene figurines like they are her dolls and rearranging the ornaments on the tree over and over.

While my daughter was playing with the nativity set last week, I was shocked to realize I’ve never actually sat and told her the nativity story. We remedied that by using the figurines to tell the story and then we watched a cartoon about it as well.