Are you preparing for Christmas?
One of my former pastors, K. Allan Blume, was influential in my life in regards to celebrating Christmas. He has a great article of resources in his helpful paper the Biblical Recorder, which he now edits. You can access his article in this link or just scroll down and read below. Jarrod Scott
“Building Family Traditions”
by K. Allan Blume
Advent is the season traditionally reserved for preparing for the coming of Christ. The word “advent” means “coming,” so this is the season for remembering the first coming of Christ to this world as a baby, enjoying His coming to us day by day, and preparing for His second coming one day as reigning King. This is a time to make the most out of Christmas. It is a chance for godly fathers and mothers to lead their children in a healthy, Biblical emphasis on Jesus as we prepare for Christmas. What better way is there to take the focus of Christmas off material things and place proper emphasis on the birth of our Savior!? A family advent celebration can help your home eliminate much of the rapid pace of Christmas by taking less than 15 minutes each day to worship the Lord Jesus. Advent puts the joy, the celebration, the peace of God and deep awareness of God’s love into your family’s Christmas celebration. Isn’t that the way Christmas should be?
The celebration of Advent always begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day. This year, we begin on Sunday, December 3, 2017. It continues through Christmas Day, and many carry their family celebrations another week to New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day. Some celebrate using the advent wreath, while others use the advent log.
The advent wreath is decorated for the holidays with four candles in the circular pattern – one candle for each Lord’s Day. The candles have traditionally been purple, the color of royalty. However, most families use colors that fit their Christmas family traditions. One candle is lit the first Sunday, with the same candle being lit daily for a full week as the family meets for a 10 to 15 minute devotion. On the second Sunday, light one more candle and continue lighting the first two candles each night through the week while the family shares a devotion. Continue lighting one new candle each Sunday until all four are burning brightly on the fourth week. An additional white candle each Sunday until all four are burning brightly on the fourth week. An additional white candle should be placed in the center of the advent wreath and lit on Christmas Day.
The advent log expresses the same symbolism as the wreath. The difference is that the log provides a new candle to light for each day of advent. It dramatically symbolizes the coming of Light into the world, as each night the glow becomes brighter until finally the whole room is filled with light. Also, since the candles are lit alternately from one end to the next, with the center candle lit on Christmas Day, the effect of a mountain peak beautifully points to the heavens on Christmas Day. You can download a pdf file with a diagram of the advent log, including dimensions. (Scroll to bottom to see a list of resources.)
Several themes should remain dominant through your daily family celebrations:
- Coming — Remember, we celebrate His first coming, rejoice in the ways He comes to us daily, and prepare for His second coming.
- Waiting — Our studies will show us how God’s people waited patiently for the promised Messiah. We too, wait. We celebrate while we wait!
- Covenant — Advent devotions trace the path of God’s covenant with His people and reveals the fulfillment of God’s plan through the coming of Jesus to the world.
The family devotion time will probably be most appropriate at the close of each day, before going to bed. A suggested procedure is:
1. Get your Bible and devotional materials ready. Keep them in a central place through the season.
2. Light your advent candle(s). Children enjoy doing this each evening. If there are several children in the family, let them alternate lighting candles from day to day. Even adults may alternate in the daily lighting of the candles.
3. A family member should read the devotional for the day as others listen.
4. Another member of the family could read a few scripture verses that relate to the day’s theme.
5. Share prayer requests together and allow each family member to pray. Be sure you are not just asking God for something in your prayers. Rejoice! Praise Him for His goodness to you.
6. Blow out the candles. If you allow your candles to burn too long each night, they will not last the full 26 or more days. Ten to fifteen minutes is the maximum you should allow.
7. Share something fun together. This could be a time of having hot chocolate or cinnamon apple cider together. Some nights you may have some special cookies or other Christmas treats on hand. There may be a game the family can play together. The anticipation will be greater if a different type of activity is planned for each evening or if a special activity is planned for only one evening each week. Write a letter to a missionary, an old friend, or a grandparent one night if possible.
Be flexible and enjoy your family time. Do what is meaningful to your family. Don’t let the structure kill your worship experience, but remember that structured family traditions are cherished for the rest of life.
Resources for Advent:
- LifeWay offers a variety of Advent resources.
- This very thorough discussion of Advent is worth reading.
- Download Advent Log design instructions
- Focus on the Family has some great Advent resources.
- This resource, “Advent Journeys,” is by North Carolina Baptist authors David & Sarah Simon. You can purchase the book on Amazon.com. The book is written from a Jewish background.
- John Piper has several excellent devotional books for Advent. Click here to download one.
- Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer & others