Advent is my families favorite seasons of the Christian year. I especially love the colors, sites, and smells of the season, not to mention Christmas cookies!
Advent reminds us of the mystery of the Virgin birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. The season of Advent marks the beginning of the Church Year for Christians all over the world. It begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day, which is the Sunday nearest November 30, and ends on Christmas Eve (Dec 24). During Advent, we prepare our hearts for the mystery of the incarnation by focusing on the Virgin Birth and the faith of the virgin Mary, the shepherds, and the wise men.
In particular, Advent is a time to join together with others to celebrate the coming of Christ’s birth. It can also be a wonderful time to celebrate your faith together as a family. As a family, my wife and I have learned the joy of celebrating Advent with our children. You can also follow the season with your children with meaningful traditions that include Bible readings, prayers, and crafts.
Many Christian families use an Advent wreath to celebrate the themes of Advent in the home. The Advent wreath is rich in a symbolism and is typically an evergreen wreath that contains five candles that retells the Christmas story. The circle of greenery reminds us that God is eternal, the Alpha and Omega without beginning or end. The candles symbolize the light of God entering the world through the birth of Jesus. The four outer candles represent a period of waiting for the birth of Jesus and their light reminds us that Jesus is the light of the world that comes into the darkness of our world. They also reminds us that we are called to be a light to the world as we reflect the light of God’s love and grace to others.
The themes most often used for the four weeks of Advent are Hope, Peace, Joy and Love. However, the choice of themes is not limited to these exclusively. The candles have different colors that remind us of the themes for Advent. Traditionally the primary color of Lent is purple, which reflects fasting that formed part of the build-up to Christmas in earlier centuries. The color purple also reminds us of the link between the birth and death of Jesus. On the third Sunday of Advent the color changes to pink or rose in anticipation of the end of the birth of Jesus Christ. The center candle is white and is called the Christ Candle. It is traditionally lit on Christmas Eve or Day where there is a service on these days.
Your family can make your own Advent wreath or you can buy one from your local Christian bookstore. You can gather around your family dinner table on Sunday evenings and light a candle, read a portion of scripture, and say a prayer each Sunday in Advent. Here is a list of prayers and verses to go with each theme.
First Sunday: Hope
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. Isaiah 9:2
One purple candle is lit.
“Almighty God, as the Advent season begins, we cry out to you in hope. In a world of darkness and death our only hope is in you. Wherever we find ourselves this season, Loving God, remind us that our hope is in you. Be with us on this Advent journey. Amen.”
Second Sunday: Peace
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this. Isaiah 9:6-7
Two purple candles are lit.
“Dear Jesus, we pray that you would reveal yourself to us today as the Prince of Peace. We need peace in our lives, our homes, our families, our church, and our whole world. Help us to slow down and seek out the peace that only you provide, that we may become peacemakers for others. Amen.”
Third Sunday: Joy
But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy. Isaiah 65:18
Two purple candles and one pink candle are lit.
“Dear Jesus, you came to bring us joy. Help us to not to find our joy in the things of this world, but in you and your Kingdom. This week in our Advent journey, open our eyes to the joy that surrounds us. Amen.”
Forth Sunday: Love
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35
Three purple candles and one pink candle are lit.
“Dear God, you loved us so much that you sent your only Son Jesus Christ live and die for us. We pray that you remind us this week of your love for us and that we may share your love with others. Let us live in the reality of your free and eternal love. Amen.”
While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. Luke 2:6-11
All five candles are lit.
“We have been waiting for this day, Jesus Christ, Son of God. On this Christmas Day, we pray that you would help us live as those who let hope, peace, joy, and love reign in our lives, our families, our home, and our world. As the candles burns brightly and light our home, let us live as those who have the Christ’s light burning inside us today and everyday. Amen.”
If you enjoyed this entry, you’ll find Winfield’s new book Grow at Home: A Beginner’s Guide to Family Discipleship helpful. Written for families of all ages and backgrounds, Grow at Home unpacks these ideas with a practical guide to family discipleship. When we bring the gospel back in the home, it will spread through our neighborhoods and into the communities where we live. Let the journey begin!