Today is the first day of Advent. The following format tells us about this practice but can also be used by families or groups, with younger people asking the question and others answering.
What is Advent?
Advent is a tradition of Christians that means "coming" and calls us to live in the tension of how Jews felt while waiting for the Messiah. They waited for Emmanuel, God with us.
What do we wait for?
We're waiting for the return of Jesus, but until he comes, we live expectantly as disciples who seek the light of Christ in a dark world.
Is that why we light candles?
Yes, four candles are lit, one each week. Some people make wreaths with four candles. My family has a block of wood that my sister gave us that says, "Jesus is the light of the world" and has space to put four votive candles. We've lit the first candle with family during Thanksgiving weekend and spoke about Jesus as our light who is coming.
Isn't this just a tradition of men and not biblical?
The return of Jesus is certainly biblical and Adventus is Latin translation for the Greek biblical word, "parousia," meaning second coming. So Advent is both a reminder of how the Jews waited for Messiah and also a reminder that we wait for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Here are the first two weeks of Advent, and we'll post next two later.
Make an Advent Wreath
Take a shallow bowl and fill with sand or salt and place four purple candles around the edges, or use candle holders. Place one large white candle in the middle. Make a circle of evergreens and place around the bowl or candle holders.
You need a Bible, matches, and you can also use a manger scene. Light one candle during this week’s reflection. The second week, light two, then three the third week and four the fourth. On Christmas Eve, light all and the middle white candle. Set aside some time each week for this short ceremony. Invite those who are alone to join you in worship. Use the telephone to join someone. Gather as a family or with friends.
First week of Advent: Read Isaiah 2:1-5; Romans 13:11-14; Matthew 24:36-44. Waiting for Advent also teaches us to wait for the return of Jesus. Light candle. Pray the Lord’s Prayer together.
Have a Family Meeting. Hold a family meeting to decide what your goals are for the holidays. What are your spending limits? Avoid debt. Put away credit cards.
Draw names. Consider drawing names rather than everyone giving something to everyone else in your giving circle. Set a budget. Don’t buy everything on a child’s list. Don’t rush out and get something for someone just because they got you something or to “equal” what you think they’ll get or to make the number of gifts equal. Consider giving the gift of time, a handmade gift.
Hope in a Bowl. Write down scriptures such as Isaiah 9:1-7 and Jeremiah 33:14-16—ones that announce coming of God’s redemption, Jesus the Messiah—on index cards. Drop the cards in a bowl. In the days leading up to Christmas, when you sit down to eat together, draw out a card and read the scripture.
Idea for 2nd Sunday of Advent – Dec 7
Light 2nd candle.
Read Luke 2:25-26
What is unique about this man?
Read the passage again. What word do you hear repeated. How many times?
Who is this man and what is he waiting for? What are we waiting for at Christmas?
Pray: Say the Lord’s Prayer together.
Do: With your Nativity scene at home . . . What if we hide Wise Men, Shepherds, Jesus until we read that part of the story closer to Christmas, then we put each person in as we read along?