What’s a Family To Do?
Suggestions and Instructions…
The word “Christmas” is taken from the Middle-English expression
“Christenmass,” literally, “Christ—Worship.” Advent serves as a beautiful and
enjoyable way for every one of all ages to worship Christ during the Christmas Season.
Ideally, Advent is set up to do every day during the Christmas Season, but if that is
unrealistic for your family, Advent can simply be celebrated once a week as a family
Advent day. Even if you can’t fulfill each family devotional during the week, the
beginning devotion for that new week will transition your family into the next phase of
the Advent season. As an alternative to meeting together as a family every evening, you
can start with your weekly Advent time together and then give the remaining devotions to
each of your individual family members for reflection during their own quiet times in the
week. Join back together at the onset of each new candle to share what God has
impressed upon everyone’s heart during the past week, and then transition into the next
week’s Scriptures. It is a rare and precious opportunity for each member of the family to
be pondering the same Scriptures during individual quiet times. As you can see, there is
no one-way to celebrate Advent.
The work has been done for you, so just do what works best for you and your
family! The idea is for you and your family to get away from the Christmas chaos and
celebrate the past and future coming of Jesus as a traditional and consistent part of your
Christmas Season. My family aims for every night, but we often have to do some
catching up. That’s okay, too! Whatever you do, enjoy it! Don’t become so dogmatic
about it that it becomes another source of strain and stress for you and your family,
instead of the source of peace its message is intended to bring. You may want to start off
slowly and simply, but you may find that your family enjoys celebrating Advent so much
that everyone begins clearing their schedules as much as possible to make it happen!
It is also quite common to get additional and even unexpected company during
the Advent Season. I have found Advent to be a comfortable and very natural way to
lovingly share with friends, who happen to be in our home during our scheduled Advent
time, about the true reason for the season! Guests will especially love singing Christmas
carols together, even if it is a cappella style! You will be surprised at how powerful and
how poignant are the extended verses of familiar Christmas Carols, which we rarely get
to finish in their entirety. After you have done the initial setting up for Advent, you will
find no preparation required. Simply turn to week one (THE PROPHECY CANDLE),
continue the weeks through to the Christmas Candle, and have fun! The Scriptures are
already in place and only need to be looked up and read out loud during your Advent
time. The applications for each night’s scripture are already written and can simply be
read out loud. Younger children who are just learning to read find it fun to be the one to
read the night’s Scripture out of the Bible, with a little of your help. Our children’s
reading skills actually grew leaps and bounds after the Advent Season! Older children
love to be the one to light the candle and introduce its theme, and of course all children
love to blow out the candles. It is helpful to review the name and the significance of each
candle previously studied, before lighting the present candle. We leave the candles lit
throughout the entire devotional time. As we end each evening on a joyous note, we close
by singing a few Christmas Carols together. The goal of Advent is to put the focus on
Jesus as the true gift of the season. My hope is for the Advent Season to be just one more
reminder for us all to be diligently watching and confidently waiting for Christ’s return as
our personal Savior, The Lord of the Universe, and the King of all kings!
The Prophecy Candle
Long, Long, Long Ago…
(As your family gathers around for Advent, it is good to ask or assign one member to
light the candle, another to read the Scripture out loud, and a third to read the devotion.
At the beginning of each new week, your family will need to read the new week’s
introduction, as well as the devotion, for the first evening of that week. )
WEEK 1 INTRODUCTION
For this week, we will use one of the darker color candles. As we light the very
first candle of the Advent Season, we remember that Jesus came into the world long ago
as the Light of the World. We also remind ourselves that He is still the Light of our lives
today, if we choose to receive the greatest gift any man will ever receive: Eternal Life.
Long ago Jesus came into our dark world of sin. Today, He still lives at the right hand of
the Father and in the hearts of all who will receive Him. He will one day come again in
the full light of His glory— and darkness will be no more. Charles Stanley wrote this
hymn, Come Thou Long Expected Jesus, in 1744. As we read or sing the words, let us
notice the things Christ came to do for mankind.
Come, Thou long expected Jesus, Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us; Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation, Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear Desire of every nation, Joy of every longing heart.
Born Thy people to deliver, Born a child and yet a king,
Born to reign in us forever, now Thy gracious Kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit, Rule in all our hearts alone.
By Thine all sufficient merit, Raise us to Thy glorious Throne.
He came to set us free!
He came to give us rest!
He came to bring us joy!
He came to deliver us!
He came to reign, rule, and rise up His people unto Himself!”
People from all nations cry out to Him and Haggai 2:7 says, “The desire of all nations
shall come!” We know that He has been faithful to come once already, and we believe He
will be faithful to come again! May Christ reign in our hearts today as we celebrate His
long awaited arrival and as we await His promised return!
DAILY DEVOTIONS FOR WEEK ONE
ISAIAH 9:2, 6, &7
(Look this up together in your Bibles and have someone read the verses out loud.)
It is interesting to note that scripture in the Old Testament often refers to Jesus’
birth and Jesus’ return at the same time, leaving us sometimes wondering if the verse is
referring to Jesus coming as an infant and a Savior or to Jesus coming as a warrior and a
reigning King. What is actually important to understand about these verses is that Jesus is
always both the Savior and the King, never either. God gave the prophet Isaiah these
promises about the coming Messiah as an infant as well as a returning conquering
warrior. It is important for all mankind to know that we are walking in the darkness of
death until we receive the light of God’s presence in our hearts personally. Although
Jesus was born a baby, Isaiah gives several significant names that we must know Him by:
“Wonderful,” “Counselor,” “The Mighty God,” “The Everlasting Father,” and “The
Prince of Peace”. He is not merely the baby in a manger! As we prepare to celebrate
Christ’s birth this Christmas, let us remember that not only has He come to us on that
starry night long ago, but He still lives now and forevermore! Not only does He
reign from Heaven’s Throne, but if we crown Him our Eternal King, He rules in our
hearts as well. He has come once as a gift for all, but He will return someday as a ruler
over all. He didn’t come all the way from Heaven to merely rule over us, but to rule in
us! Whether we receive Him as our Lord and Savior or not, He will still rule. The
question to ask yourself is: Are you with Him; being ruled by Him from the inside out, or
are you against Him—merely waiting to be ruled over by Him when He returns?