Isaiah 7:14 – The Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means "God is with us"). (NLT)
As I see Christmas approaching, I am reminded of the preparations that have made the season special in our home. One such preparation was to go to a Christmas tree farm where we would choose our tree, and have it cut down and mounted on the car for the ride home. The aroma of the freshly cut pine quickly got us into the spirit. A small garland of loose pine branches from the tree was used to make a garland which was placed around our Advent wreath, the focal point of our celebrations.
Beginning four Sundays prior to Christmas and ending on Christmas Eve, Advent helps us to prepare for the coming, or advent, of the Christ Child at Christmas. Our Advent wreath had four tapered candles in holders: three purple and one pink. Then, a white pillar candle was placed in the centre. The progressive lighting of the candles symbolized the expectation and hope surrounding our Lord's first coming into the world. Although my description of the candles' significance is not traditional, my prayer is that it will cause us to think about the Christmas story in a different way, with all its hope and joy.
First Sunday – Prophecy: Micah 5:2 – But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times. (NIV) Prayer and hymn – "O come, O come, Emmanuel" (purple candle).
Second Sunday – Revelation – Shepherds: Luke 2:8-11 – In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord." (NASB) Prayer and hymn – "While shepherds watched their flocks" (purple candle).
Third Sunday – Joy – Angels: Luke 2:13-14 – And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!" (NKJV) Prayer and hymn – "Angels we have heard on high" (pink candle).
Fourth Sunday – Wise Men: Matthew 2:1b-2 – Magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him." (NASB) Prayer and hymn – "We three kings" (purple candle).
Christmas Eve – Christ, the Light of the World: Luke 2:7 – And [Mary] gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. (NIV) Prayer and hymn – "Hark! The herald angels sing" (white pillar candle).
Consider this: Whatever sequence is used — Scripture readings, prayers, colours, and lighting of the candles — perhaps your family can participate in a special time of worship together this Advent season.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for sending the Word Who became a human being and made His home among us. We have experienced His unfailing love and faithfulness and have seen the wonder of Your one and only Son, Jesus Christ, in Whose name we pray. Amen.
Listen to this devotional
Listen while you read: "Come Thou Almighty King" (Lyrics)