Sunday, November 27, 2011

Advent - Day 1

In our family we celebrate the anticipation of Christ's birth with Advent readings.  We gather around the table either right after dinner or right before the youngest ones' bedtime, light the Advent candle(s) and read.  Sometimes we cue up Christmas songs and sing along, sometimes not.  With younger kids, sometimes simple is best.  :-)  I have also printed out coloring sheets that relate if the readings are longer.  It keeps little hands busy and usually buys us enough time to read without interruptions.  (I'm also not above bribery with cookies and milk!)

(This year we're planning to combine this with the traditional Christmas Advent calendar (opening the little windows or untying a piece of candy each day of December).  I'm hoping to post some photos of fun things we've done in the past.  So many creative, easy and FUN ways to do this with kids.)

Over the years, our kids have looked forward to this time and it really does prepare our hearts for what the season is truly about.  On days that have been especially hectic, the calming effect of a quiet room, dark except for the glowing candle light, brings us all back into focus and recalibrates our hearts.  I think this year especially as we wait for our children in Ethiopia to make it home, it will mark these days of waiting with even more meaning.  Anticipation.  For Christ and also for what He has brought to our family this year.

The first week of Advent is marked by a theme of 'Waiting'.  We use a simple Advent wreath with three purple or blue pillar candles and one pink.  In the center we use a white 'fatter' candle.  Week one we light a purple (or blue) 'Prophecy' or 'Waiting' candle.  Week two, we light the first purple candle and then add the second purple candle or the 'Bethlehem' or 'Preparation' candle.  Week three, we light the first two purple candles and now add the pink candle.  This is also known as the 'Shepherds'' or 'JOY' candle.  It represents the message of great joy that is brought to the world about Jesus' birth.  On week four, starting with the fourth Sunday of Advent,  we light the three previous candles and now add the fourth candle (purple), the 'Angel' or 'Sharing' candle, which represents the love which God shared with the world when He sent His Son, Jesus.  It also represents the angels announcing the birth of Jesus to the shepherds and they then shared it with others.

On Christmas morning we light all four candles and last, and best of all, we light the white candle in the center.  This represents CHRIST, our Messiah.  Jesus, Light of the World, is finally here! 

Advent Reading, Day 1:

Psalm 62:5-6

My soul, wait thou only
upon God; for my
expectation is from Him.
He only is my rock and my
salvation: He is my
defense; I shall not be
moved. (KJV)

Isaiah 26:3

Thou wilt keep him in
perfect peace, whose mind
is stayed on thee: because
he trusteth in thee. (KJV)

Isaiah 40:31

Yet those who wait for the Lord
will gain new strength;
They will mount up with
wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not
become weary. (NASB)

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