I’m by no means putting my family forward as model for celebrating the birth of our Savior. We are far from having it all together. For example, it’s December 5th and I’ve yet to lead our first Advent family time. Better late than never I always say. We have a short history of starting late, so ideally all the preparation for this celebration should be done in early November.
Let me first say that there are many routes you can take with your family to celebrate Advent. Advent is from the Latin adventus meaning “coming.” This would be the main theme of Advent; celebrating the coming of the Son into the world. The method for doing that will need to be worked out in your family. Here is basically what we do:
My beautiful wife has arranged an Advent Wreath with different symbols that are important to our family. Traditionally the advent wreath symbolizes the eternality of God (the circle) and his endless mercy. The green of the wreath symbolizes the hope that we have in God; the newness of life with the Son. The candles (five of them) symbolize the light of Jesus coming into the world. Don’t put too much emphasis on colors here..we have one maroon, three green and one white. I know that these are not the traditional colors, but that’s ok with me. The first candle (maroon) symbolizes hope and expectation for us this year. The three green candles will represent different aspects of the coming and life of Christ (also I will use characters from the Bible to illustrate from a different angle). The white candle is the Candle of Christ, lit on Christmas day (or eve).
The wreath sits on our dining room table with the candles in the middle, with the white candle being in the very center. Each week of the Christmas season, we gather around the table, light the particular candle, read Scripture, sing and I will teach the lesson for that week.
I will try to put my notes from each week on the blog to give a taste of what this family time looks like. If you already spend time together as a family in worship each week, this is no big deal. However, if you do not regularly worship with your family, this is a great way to begin!
Our first candle will represent HOPE. We will begin by reading John Piper’s poem, Christmas Candle.
This draws attention to the anticipation of the coming of a Messiah that weaves its way throughout the Old Testament into the New. The entire Bible is focused on the coming of the Messiah, beginning in Genesis 3:15–
13 Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” 14 The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. 15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” (emphasis mine)
It seems that from the fall God’s judgment was clothed in hope for his people. The seed of the Woman promised here is partially fulfilled through Noah, Moses and David, but ultimately comes to pass in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! He CRUSHED the head of the serpent when the work of the cross was completed.
The people of the Old Testament were patiently waiting and hoping for this Messiah! Of course this hope was realized through the birth of a baby in Bethlehemam in a stable. He grew to be a man and was crucified for our sins. That hope should also be stirred in us as we prepare for the 2nd coming of Jesus!
I hope to close our time each week by singing a hymn. One that I really enjoyed was by Eric Schumacher entitled How Beautiful the Mystery.
May God bless your time with your family this Christmas.