So...you've heard me talking about Advent...what is Advent?
You know that last year I made a cutie Advent calendar out of toilet paper rolls (or you do now)...
You know that some sort of wreath goes along with it...
But you have no idea what Advent is.
Advent is the season leading up to Christmas, beginning 4 Sundays before Dec. 25th.
What's the point, you ask?
I'm glad you did.
It's best put by Noel Piper, in Treasuring God in Our Traditions:
"We are a people of promise. For centuries God prepared people for the coming of His Son, our only hope for life. At Christmas we celebrate the fulfillment of the promises God made - that he would make a way to draw near to him."
So, during the 4 weeks of Advent we are anticipating the coming of Jesus. Advent means "coming." Just like God's people were waiting for the salvation that was foretold all throughout the Old Testament, so we wait as they did, only we know the outcome, JESUS!
"Advent is a season of looking back, thinking how it must have been, waiting for the promised salvation of God, not knowing what to expect. And at the same time, Advent is a season of looking ahead, preparing ourselves to meet Jesus at his Second Coming."
What's the purpose of Advent Candles?
As far as Advent Candles, we light one each Sunday, so there should be candles for four Sundays plus Christmas Day. As the lights get brighter and brighter, we reflect on how Jesus truly is the "light of the world." Here is my Advent cheat sheet:
This week we light the very first candle--the Prophecy Candle. This candle represents not only the Biblical prophecies about Christ's birth, but the very feeling of anticipation which God's people experienced over hundreds of years as they awaited His coming. Advent encompasses both the arrival of the Christ child and His second glorious coming!
This week, we will be lighting the Bethlehem Candle. First light the Prophecy Candle, then the Bethlehem Candle.
The Bethlehem Candle represents the preparations made for the coming Christ child. Even though no room was available for Mary and Joseph when they came, God had orchestrated events so that Caesar Augustus called for a census to be taken. Joseph and Mary had to leave Nazareth so that they could register in Bethlehem and the prophecies were fulfilled.
This is the week of the Shepherds' Candle for Advent.
The shepherds represent the message of great joy that is brought to the world about Jesus' birth. Light the first two candles and then the Shepherds' Candle.
This week's candle is called the Angel Candle and it represents the love which God shared with the world when He sent His Son, Jesus! Light all four Advent candles this week.
Christmas Day –
Today we light the past 4 candles of Advent and then the white candle, which represents Christ! Our Messiah, Jesus, Light of the World is finally here!
What's with the Advent Calendar?
We use the Advent Calendar for our daily devotions each day. I print off our reading and we put them in the toilet paper rolls that are hung on the wall. It's just a fun and cute way to remember where we are and to let the kids feel involved in getting them out each day. It also serves to keep us consistent. We go through scriptures of Jesus' birth as well as prophecies that point to Christ. We ask thoughtful, provoking questions to focus our day on Christ and sometimes we have an activity that reinforces what we have learned. We sing Christmas songs and pray as a family.
Sometime this week I am going to make my Advent calendar available, as well as post some ideas for Advent/Christmas crafts, activities and traditions. Please let me know if you have some good ones I can post with mine. I hope this helps and I hope you will consider starting this with your family. I am going to try to make it really easy for you to get started by making mine available and sharing all of the good ideas I have learned from others along the way.
Some of Noel's questions I want to always consider...
Can others see why I am celebrating?
Am I celebrating Christ?
Am I focusing on God's gift so that my appreciation for Him grows?
"May our decorations, gifts, festivities or lack of them - never block our view of him but always point us toward him." -Noel Piper