The Advent season refers to the advent, or the “coming” of Christ. Advent means “coming” as in the “advent of a new era.” People delight in looking forward to wonderful events, be it a wedding, a birthday or anniversary. The anticipation is half, if not most of the fun. The season of Advent is one such time.
HOW TO USE THIS DAILY GUIDE
There is an opportunity to light your Advent candles and offer a response. A passage of Scripture with a specific theological theme is followed with a brief commentary reflecting on the pericope (scriptural passage). Sometimes there is an activity you can do. The time concludes with some suggestions for music to listen to and a prayer.
If you're reading as a family, feel free to divide up the readings and activities. The more we can do together, the richer the meaning of the season.
Written by Minister of Worship, Dr. Dan Sharp. Read more about Dan.
DAILY Advent DEVOTIONS
The observance of Advent, Christmastide, and Epiphany provide a great opportunity for all of us to grow in faith by gaining a deeper understanding of events in Scripture. The significance of the Second Coming, prophecy, the Incarnation, and a host of other truths give us deeper roots and a broader understanding of the One we worship.
The observance of these seasons is not simply a repeat of last year, but rather an opportunity to dig deeper into the significance and experience of walking in faith. It has been said, “Traditionalism is the dead faith of living people, but tradition is the living faith of dead people!” Hopefully, we are not spiritually at the same place we were last year. The Scriptures are a living book and it is our prayer that God will speak to each of us day by day through the weeks ahead.
The four Sundays are assigned various themes; there is some latitude given here over the years. For example: hope, love, joy, peace; or Prophets, Bethlehem, Angels, Shepherds and so forth. The key in each of these themes is opportunity of teaching faith. The primary significance in the lighting of the candles each week is the progressive illumination. In a general way, Advent deals with such topics as: the Second Coming, Prophecy, the Incarnation, some of the great songs of Scripture (Magnificat, Nunc Dimittis, and the Song of Zechariah), Judgment, Creation, and Mission to the world to name a few. Through the centuries, faith was taught through story and image. Come to think of it, that’s the model for much of Jesus’ teaching as well.
We have actually extended our Advent study to include Christmastide to Epiphany on January 6th, exactly twelve days after Christmas. Originally there was a period of roughly six weeks leading up to Epiphany, during which time was set aside for preparation for those being baptized. This day of January 6th was one of the primary days for baptism of new believers. Epiphany is actually older than Christmas Day with references made as early as 215 AD. There was emphasis on the coming of the magi which underscored the truth that Jesus came as Savior for all peoples and nations. Early on, Jesus’ baptism and first miracle at the wedding feast of Cana were initial themes of this day.
Make a wreath (if you don’t have one), and set it up in a prominent place in your home. The kitchen table is a perfect location since the candle(s) are lit around mealtime. Since your family may be scattered and not eat together, you may want to work out another time for the family to be together to light the candle. You may even all decide that one night a week you’ll all eat together! Revolutionary!
evergreen, three purple candles, one rose candle, one white candle. The candles are place at 12, 3, 6, and 9 o’clock in the circle and the white one is placed in the middle. You can use four purple, four white, or four blue candles and one larger white one as well (Christ candle in the middle)
Symbols play a major role throughout the Scriptures and are one of the key ways of teaching truth. A simple symbol can speak many words. Rather than being rooted in anything biblical, the Advent Wreath grew out of a folk custom dating back to the 16th century. Most people suppose it grew out of the tradition of putting candles on wagon wheels or circular bundles of evergreens during the darkest time of the year as people waited for the days to length after the winter solstice. The practice eventually spread to the Christian churches in the West. It is a custom that is expressed both in church at in the home. Four candles were always used and placed in a ring of evergreen interspersed with red holly berries. The circle spoke of God’s unending love for his children. The evergreen symbolized eternal life, as green was the color of life. The red berries represented drops of blood, shed for the sins of the world.
History of Advent
Historically, the first Sunday theme begins with the Second Coming, Jesus’ return to earth at the end of time to bring to the entire created order to consummation. The season concludes with his birth as a baby, his first coming to earth. The season, which originally ranged from three weeks up to forty days depending on the geographic location, finally settled on the four Sundays before Christmas Day. There are references to the observance of Advent as far back as the late 4th century in northern Italy. It was originally a time of fasting and preparation for baptism on January 6th Epiphany. (In the early centuries the Church held baptisms only at Easter and on Epiphany.)
All biblical quotes from The New Living Translation.1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation.