Advent, Week One

The Advent wreath is a means with which we celebrate the Advent season in our church, and the season kicks off in Week 1 with the lighting of the Prophets' Candle. This candle is meant to call to mind the prophecies of the coming of our Messiah, the Anointed One of God. As you celebrate Week 1 individually or with your family or others, the following passages of Scripture from Isaiah will be helpful:

  • Isaiah 7:14
  • Isaiah 9:1-7
  • Isaiah 11:1-2
  • Isaiah 52:13 -- 53:12

There are many, many other Old Testament prophecies (here's a list of more than forty) that are believed to be related to Jesus--some theologians would argue that the entire Old Testament is a collection of books of law, history, poetry, and prophecy that essentially points toward God's Messiah.

One of the important things to bear in mind is that Jesus came into the world at a point in history that was exactly the right time (see Galatians 4:4-5). God doesn't elaborate much on why Jesus was born at the right time in history, but we can speculate about it:

  • A huge percentage of the civilized world was under the rule of one nation, which meant that one language (Greek) was spoken pretty much all over the Roman Empire. 
  • The Empire was essentially at peace for the time being.
  • The Romans had built a vast system of roads throughout the Empire.

Discussion: God alone knows exactly why the timing was perfect, but it doesn't hurt to speculate, so you may want to think about and discuss why the time was right for Jesus to be born.

Family Activity: Set up an Advent wreath somewhere in your home, perhaps on the table where you share your meals. You can purchase one ready-made from a craft store, but it might be more fun to engage your family in making one. (Google "advent wreath: images" for some pictures that might help you.) If you want to stick with tradition, make a wreath of evergreen branches surrounding four candles (three purple, one pink or rose), and optionally, a white candle in the center. But you can use whatever you have on hand--the dollar store probably has inexpensive candles that will work. 

Advent Reading for Week 1:

November 27, 2016: First Sunday of Advent

The word “advent” means “the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event.” In the traditions of the Church, Advent is the first season of the church year, a season of preparation for the celebration of the birth of Jesus. On each of the four Sundays before Christmas, we focus our attention on a different aspect of the first advent of Christ, but always in the context of our hope for the second advent, when Christ will come again, not in a humble manger, but on the clouds, in glory.

The Advent wreath is a ring that symbolizes God’s eternity; the evergreen branches and the candlelight remind us that God is our Everlasting Light. The first candle we light is known as the Prophecy Candle, signifying the hope and promise of a savior, whose advent was foretold by the prophet Isaiah:

The people who walked in darkness
    have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
    on them has
For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
    and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Prayer:  God, our Father, today we begin a season of remembrance and preparation. Thank you for sending the Savior you promised so long ago. The promises of your Word are true, and we are grateful for that, as well. Our Savior has come to rescue us from darkness and sin and death. He has come as the light of the world, and he invites us to participate in his kingdom of love and light. Thank you, Lord, for your Word, and for your promise of hope and purpose and a future. We pray in the name of the One who loves us and has come for us, Jesus our Savior, AMEN.

 

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