This year, we'll be doing these readings through the Jesse Tree symbols at breakfast or dinner each day. Until a few years ago I didn't know of the Jesse Tree Advent symbols; but I wanted a simple advent wreath we could use annually and found the one above online. I hope to pick up a round glass centerpiece mirror to go under it this year. We've never done any readings to go with it, so I guess we're starting a new tradition!
For personal reading, I cannot recommend this book enough and look forward to reading it every year:
Adding to my collection, I've picked up a used copy of this (by one of my favorite authors/commentators James Montgomery Boice) to read this year, thanks to AbeBooks, the best place to find used books online!
There's nothing magical about Advent and observing it, no sin if you don't, it's simply a time of building up expectation to the celebration of Jesus' birth at Christmas - a great opportunity for extra focus and heart preparation, similar to Lent. Boice reminded me yesterday that the Christmas story is far from sentimental and cuddly - it's raw, rough, and intense. The Angel told Joseph to give the baby the name Jesus, because He would save His people from their sins.
To do that, He knew He was coming to die, and did so willingly and joyfully, that God's people might be restored unto Him. The wonder of Christmas points to the toil of the crucifixion and the glory of the resurrection. Christmas turns our hearts and minds to the God our Emmanuel, who came to be with us, and who will one day make His dwelling with men, forever and ever.
May God bless you in the Advent season
as you prepare your homes for the holiday
and your hearts for the celebration!