December is just a few days away and as the Christmas countdown continues most people discover that their time is consumed with countless holiday chores such as shopping, cooking, cleaning, Christmas programs and much more. If you have ever thought or even dared to say aloud "I can't wait till Christmas is over" I have the thing for you. In hopes that it will bring you tidings of great joy, I urge you to slow the pace down a bit this year and enjoy a time of spiritual renewal and reflect what the Christmas season truly is about.
A few years ago my family did just that. We began celebrating Advent. It has hence become a family tradition. The word Advent literally means "arrival". It is a time for preparation for the coming of something....or Someone. It is a time set aside to prepare our hearts to receive Christ the coming King. It is a reminder of the waiting that was done by the Hebrews for the birth of the Messiah and also a reminder that we, as Christians are waiting for His second coming, when those who have "prepared Him room" will forever be with the Lord. Advent begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas. Some families gather for activities only on Sundays, we have chosen to have nightly devotions and activities. I purchased an advent wreath. This is not really necessary but I like the symbolic meaning and thought it would add a special touch to our nightly Advent devotions. The circle of the wreath reminds us of God Himself, His eternity and endless mercy, which has no beginning or end. The green of the wreath speaks of the hope that we have in God, the hope of newness, of renewal, of eternal life. The candles symbolize the light of God coming into the world through the birth of His son. The 4 outer candles represent the period of waiting during the 4 Sundays of Advent, which themselves symbolize the four centuries of waiting between the prophet Malachi and the birth of Christ. The light of the candles remind us that Jesus is the light of the world and to remind us that we are called to be a light to the world as we reflect the light of God's grace to others. (Isaiah 42:6)
There are 4 candles circling the wreath. Traditionally there are 3 purple and 1 pink. In the center is a white candle representing Christ. Instead of purple and pink candles we use 4 red candles. It's just a personal preference. The first Sunday, which is tonight, we will light the first candle. It is the candle of Hope. It represents the promise of a Savior. We will read Isaiah 9:6-7 and then light the candle. Every night this week when we gather for our Advent devotion and activities we will light the same candle again. The second week of Advent we will light the candle of Peace, the third week is the Candle of Joy, the fourth week is the Candle of Love. Then Christmas Eve we will light all the candles along with the white Christmas candle that celebrates Jesus Christ the Light of the World. On this night I prepare ahead candles for each family member and with the lights off we light our individual candles from the Christ candle to represent how Christ shines thru us and how we are to be a light in this dark world.
My goal is to share with you our Advent journey. Some nights we will have serious devotions and talks, others we may gather and sing Christmas carols, or play games, maybe even make Christmas cookies, but whatever we do, the purpose will be to slow down, reflect and grow.
My hope is that you will join me in this journey and truly experience the fullness of this most wonderful time of the year.