Christmastime, for many people, is a rush of shopping, wrapping, entertaining, and frayed nerves. We spend a lot of time worrying about family and social politics; finances cause many struggles during this time of year; and a vast number of people are depressed or commit suicide during the holiday season.
In an effort to bring the “true meaning of Christmas” into the holiday picture, we may read Luke 2 before the family dives into the huge stack of Christmas presents. We may dutifully attend church on Christmas morning. Some of us will parade in church in shepherd and wise men costumes. The children will stand on stage looking shy while an adult sings, “Away In A Manger” and a little girl chews on the hem of her dress.
These things aren’t bad, and many actually contribute to our worship experience. But often, we lose sight of the One we are celebrating and why we celebrate Him.
The purpose of Advent (the four weeks preceding Christmas, which begin on December 1st this year) is to help you celebrate Jesus. It can be one more thing to add to the commotion, or it can help you pull away from the commercial reality to find yourself centering on Christ. This is hard to accomplish in a 10-minute reading of Luke 2 … especially with all those presents staring kids in the face. Our family has found that the month-long celebration of Advent really makes a difference in focusing our attention on Jesus.
It’s important to remember that activity alone will not create worship. Much is up to you. It’s also important to remember that worship is not merely a feeling: It’s a response to God. The more we know God, the more we will respond with feelings and active expressions of love. As you celebrate Advent and Christmas, as you read about God’s love and the creative ways in which He expresses it, show Him — in word and in deed — how much you appreciate all that He’s done for you!
An added benefit of celebrating Advent, by the way, is tradition. Traditions bind us together, creating lasting ties that span miles and generations. They provide a structure for harmony, security, and love.
Suggestions for Celebrating Advent
The symbols of Advent are five candles. You may use four green or white candles and one red one, or the colors suggested below. You can arrange them in a circle surrounded by evergreen, line them up on your mantle, or give them some other prominent place in your home. The important thing is to have them in a place where your family can gather to read Scripture together.
Choose a time each day to read the designated Scripture. During the first week, the first candle is lit each day while the verses are read. The second week, you will light the first and second candles each day; and so on. On Christmas Day, all the candles will be lit, and can be left to burn themselves out – all day!
If you want to use five different colored candles to go with the theme of the readings for each week, here’s what I suggest:
Week One: Gold, blue, or brown for PROPHETS.
Week Two: White for ANGELS.
Week Three: Brown or green for SHEPHERDS.
Week Four: Purple, royal blue, or gold for MAGI (WISE MEN).
Christmas Day: Red or gold for CHRIST; maybe a large candle or a specially shaped or decorated candle. This candle goes in the center of your display.
The Scripture readings are the heart of Celebrating Advent. In this book, you’ll find a Scripture reading for each day of Advent, arranged by the themes above. There are also carols matched with the themes and additional activity suggestions to enrich your Advent celebration of our Savior. If you don’t already have family devotions, this is a great way to get started … all you have to do then is carry it into the new year! If your family is spread out geographically, you might consider doing your advent readings together by Skype.
How ever you celebrate Christmas, be sure to remember God’s love and grace in giving His one and only Son. Don’t let the celebration block your view of the Celebrated.
To order Celebrating Advent, click on the link below. It will take a couple weeks to receive your copy.
I hope that worship and tradition will be two of your joys this Christmas season … And may our worship and ties of tradition bring joy and glory to God.