Believe it of not, the Christmas season is upon us. Even though Thanksgiving has yet to come and go, there’s no denying that “the most wonderful time of the year” is here.
For us as believers, the Christmas season is an opportunity to recount together the mercy and grace of God in the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Within the church, this time of year is traditionally referred to as “Advent,” a name derived from the Latin word adventus, which means “coming.” We celebrate Jesus’ first coming in lowliness as a servant, and we look with eager expectation toward His second coming in glory as the King of kings.
Advent officially begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas and continues until Christmas Eve. Some of the traditions of the season include the the keeping of an advent calendar or advent candle, with one door being opened in the calendar, or one section of the candle being burned, on each day in December leading up to Christmas Eve.
The keeping of an advent wreath is also a common practice in homes or churches. The Advent wreath is shaped in a perfect circle to symbolize the eternity of God. With the wreath are four purple candles, one for each week in Advent, and one larger white candle in the middle of the wreath. The first Sunday of Advent the candle of “Hope” or “Expectation” is lit. The second Sunday of Advent the candle of “Love” is lit (or in other traditions it is “Peace” or “Preparation”). The third Sunday of Advent the candle of “Joy” is lit. The fourth Sunday of Advent the Candle of “Peace” is lit (or in other traditions the Candle of “Love”). On Christmas Eve or Christmas Day the central white “Christ Candle” is lit. This candle reminds us that Jesus is the light of the world.
Advent is is a significant season in the life of the church. Ironically, it’s also a season when stopping to really consider Christ can be difficult because of the demands on our time the holiday season brings. To help, we are making available an Advent resource to focus our minds and hearts on Jesus’ coming during an especially busy time.
We are making available an Advent Guide (produced by The Village Church), which walks through the narrative of Jesus’ birth. You may download it at the link provided; we will also have some printed copies available in the foyer. The guide begins in the Garden with God’s promise of a Savior and ends with an eager anticipation of Jesus’ promised return. In the middle, God shows His unmistakable faithfulness in sending the promised Rescuer. We see God’s love for the lowly and outcast as He proclaims the news of His Son to the shepherds. We marvel at His heart to see all nations come and worship His Son through the Magi’s journey. God is faithful. He keeps His promises, and He keeps them perfectly.
On Your Own or With Your Family
The Advent Guide contains five weeks of material, with both a study to complete on your own and a plan to help families talk about the Advent narrative together. The family portions are designed to work for families of all shapes and sizes and do not require extensive preparation.
Although the Advent Guide does not include a portion specifically for groups, our Life Groups can easily modify the individual or family study to use for discussion and application.
The guide was written with family discipleship in mind. In addition to the weekly family devotional, the appendices include ideas on how to create intentional time, capture teachable moments, and mark milestones for the sake of thinking about, talking about, and living out the gospel.
The sermons for December leading up to Christmas will roughly follow the material in the Advent Guide, so I encourage all of us, as individuals, families, and Life Groups, to study and celebrate together this Christmas season. And we will have a candlelight Christmas Eve service that you won’t want to miss!
The King has come . . . and is coming! Please join us as we walk through this season together. We have much to celebrate!