Advent starts this Sunday, November 29 and continues through Thursday, December 24. Its history is debated, but most agree it goes back to the 5th century. It’s interesting how many evangelical churches today don’t seem to celebrate Advent. Why? Is Advent something to be avoided?
Let’s first start by defining Advent, which is Latin for “the coming”. This sets the theme for the four-weeks of reflection, devotion, and prayer. Advent is essentially a time to focus on both the first coming of Christ (Christmas) and the second coming of Christ (His return). It is comprised of daily scripture reading, prayer, and lighting of candles. Like all other Christian holidays, Advent was most probably hijacked from an ancient Germanic celebration involving the evergreen wreath and candles. But that is nothing new and is essentially how most Christian celebrations came about (see my blog post, Should Christian Families Avoid Santa Claus?).
Today, it seems like most protestant evangelical churches avoid Advent because it is associated with the Catholic Church, yet much of what is celebrated has Lutheran origins dating back to the reformation. Either way, I say, who cares? Anytime we are encouraged to read scripture and pray it’s a good thing, especially during the holiday season. We all know how busy and chaotic Christmas can become and Advent is a great way to stay centered and focus on the true meaning of Christmas. Churches, families, and individuals can all participate in Advent. It is really simple and there are only a few elements involved.
Below are some instructions I’ve provided to our church congregation that you might find helpful.
Buy advent wreath w/4 candles, purple and rose (available on Amazon). Set aside 10-15 minutes daily for a time of devotion and candle lighting.
Week 1 Theme = Hope (purple candle)
Week 2 Theme = Peace (purple candle)
Week 3 Theme = Joy (rose candle)
Week 4 Theme = Love (purple candle)
Dec 24 = Christ (white candle)
Note: Each week candles should be consecutively lit (e.g. week 3= three candles lit)
Light candle & open with short prayer focusing on candle theme (i.e. Hope, Peace, etc.)
Scripture reading focused on the week’s theme (i.e. Hope, Peace, etc.)
Note: Google search “advent readings” or log onto our church website pacificcoastchurch.org (under sermon section, download sermon notes PDF file)
Closing time or praying, focusing on the specific reading (also a time of confession)
Optional: Sing the song “O Come O Come Emmanuel”
So should Christians celebrate Advent? I say yes! If you have never participated in Advent, give it a try this year. You and your family will be blessed.
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