Monday, November 29, 2010

The Beginning of Advent

Throughout history, various cultures and people have chosen to set aside a season designed especially to recapture the anticipation of the arrival of the Christ-Child.  This season is called Advent.  Advent is the Latin word that means, “a coming or arrival”. It’s a time where Christians (as families and community gatherings) prepare themselves in reflection and anticipation for the coming of Christ.

Over the next four weeks there will be some family devotional ideas to help guide you and your family together through a time of remembering. There will also be activity ideas that can be done together as a family to foster further conversation and fun. One of these ideas will be to create an Advent wreath and use it to symbolical represent a central idea for each week. You may want to select a specific day(s) to gather as a family for this purpose.

First Week of Advent :: Hope

Activity:  As a family make an Advent wreath. An Advent wreath typically consists of an evergreen wreath and four candles (traditionally, three purple and one rose). The candles can be lit once a week or perhaps every night at dinner during Advent—one candle the first week, then an additional candle for each successive week.

About the Advent Wreath:
The Advent wreath can be used to help us keep our thoughts focused on the coming of Christ at Christmas. One idea is to place the Advent wreath on the dinner table through the season of Advent and make it a part of the evening meal. The family gathers around the wreath and lights the appropriate candles. The father (or other leader) prays the Advent wreath prayer for that week, and the candles are left burning during the meal.

We eat by its light alone. In the December darkness, the Light of God is brighter by contrast. On the first week, the single candle seems very feeble and lonely. It reminds us of how even the smallest amount of hope still pushes back the darkness. On the second week, there are two lights and we remember that Christ said, "Where there are two or more of you gathered in my Name, there also shall I be." On the third week, we light the pink candle. We know Christmas is closer and we think about the story of Christ’s coming as a child. Finally, all four candles are lit. We can see by their light to read the Nativity narratives from our Bible.

Lighting the First Advent Candle
[Read Aloud]Today we light the first candle of the Advent wreath. This is the candle of HOPE. For hundreds of years, the world waited in anticipation for the coming of Christ, the Messiah.  His arrival made angels sing and shepherds bow in reverence.  Not only did his birth bring hope, but throughout His entire life, every person He came in contact with was offered hope.  Even today as we come to know Jesus, our lives are filled with a hope that the world cannot offer. With Christians around the world, we use this light to help us prepare our hearts and minds for the coming of God’s Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. 

May we receive God’s light as we hear the words of the prophet Isaiah:
"The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a -- on land of deep darkness them light has shined." (Isaiah 9:2)

Lord, as we look to the birth of Jesus, may the light of your love for us help us to become a light to those around us. Prepare our hearts for the joy and gladness of your coming, for Jesus is our hope.  Amen.

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