Advent. One of the ways that we keep Christ in Christmas is advent. However, I have had a lot of people who ask….what IS Advent and how can they implement this HOLYday it into their life.
So What is Advent?
Advent begins 4 Sundays before Christmas. It is a season of anticipation, anticipating the “coming of the Messiah”. Born in the flesh, in Bethlehem 2000 years ago. The history of the Old Testament sets the stage for baby Jesus to be born, who would perform the work of salvation for all of us on the cross. Advent gives us a chance to meditate on Hope for deliverance, expectation for the coming of the one who will bring justice to an unjust world, preparation so that we may prepare our hearts to receive Christ who is, the light of the world.
The readings, prayers, scriptures, worship, and even the candles help prepare us spiritually for what the Christmas season is really about, but it also helps to prepare us for his second coming. The Bible readings surrounding advent are a mix of both the old and the new testament. The old testament readings focus on the promised savior that is to come and the new testament readings focus on the promise of Christ’s second return and judge of all. It is much more than a one day celebration, it is a month to be still and remember the God of our past, present, and future. The hustle and bustle of the season is silenced as we take out our Bibles and advent books and the story is read. It is so exciting to see how the stories and prophecies that are “concealed” are slowly “revealed” to us in new insights that are gained from the scripture. As we sing hymns or whisper a prayer in song, we begin to eagerly await the birth of the Christ Child.
Here is how we do it….
We use an advent wreath and we have 5 candles. One new candle is light each Sunday leading up to Christmas and the 5th candle is lit on Christmas day. We have 3 purple, one pink taper candle and one white candle in the center. The white one is lit on the 25th of December. Purple stands for repentance and the pink stands for joy. When we light the candles we also read scripture, sing songs and read a story. Here are the meanings of the candles.
The First Candle (The Candle of Prophecy/Hope)
The first candle is sometimes called the candle of prophecy because it symbolizes the promises the prophets delivered as messages from God; promises that foretold Christ’s birth. Others consider the candle to be a symbol of the hope we have in Christ and so it is called the Hope candle.
Suggested Verses to Read at the Lighting of the First Candle
Prophetic Verse: Arise, shine; For you light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, And deep darkness the people But the Lord will arise over you, And His glory will be seen upon you. Isaiah 60: 1-3
The Fulfillment of Prophecy: ‘Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.” Mathew 24:44
The Second Candle (The Candle of the Way)
The second candle shows that Christ is the Way. Christians are lost in sin and Christ is the Light sent into the world to show them the way out of darkness.
Suggested Verses to Read at the Lighting of the Second Candle
Leading Us to the Kingdom of Heaven: “In those days, John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come now.” Matthew 3: 1-2
Jesus’ Proclamation of His Purpose: “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’” John 14: 6
The Third Candle (The Candle of Joy)
The third candle indicates that the only lasting Joy to be found in life on earth is through Christ. All other joy is fleeting and does not last.
Suggested Verses to Read at the Lighting of the Third Candle
Prophetic Verse: “and the ransomed of the LORD will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.” Isaiah 35: 10
Fulfillment of Prophecy: “Then as He was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olive, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen, saying: ‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!’” Luke 19: 37-38
The Ultimate Completion of Prophecy: “And Jesus said to him, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.’”
The Fourth Candle (The Candle of Peace)
The fourth candle reminds that Jesus comes to bring Peace to both the world and to people’s hearts. Without Christ there is no peace in this world.
Suggested Verses to Read at the Lighting of the Fourth Candle
Prophetic Verse: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given. And the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6-7
Fulfillment of Prophecy: “…the Dayspring from on high has visited us; To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” Luke 1: 78b-79
“And when the parents brought in the Christ Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law, he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said: ‘Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation which you have prepared before the face of all people’s; a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles and the glory of Your people Israel. Luke 2: 27b-32
The Fifth Candle (The Christ Candle or Christmas Candle)
The fifth candle represents Christ himself who is born to save people from their sins. It is a celebration of the fulfillment of prophecy as represented in Christ’s birth and hope in the final fulfillment when Christ comes again and Christians join him.
Suggested Verses to Read at the Lighting of the Fifth Candle
Prophetic Verse: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined. Thou hast multiplied the nation, thou hast increased its joy; they rejoice before thee as with joy at the harvest, as men rejoice when they divide the spoil. For the yoke of his burden, and the staff for his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, thou hast broken as on the day of Mid’ian. For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult and every garment rolled in blood will be burned as fuel for the fire. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David, and over his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and for evermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.” Isaiah 9:2-7
Fulfillment of Prophecy: “…a Savior has been born to you: He is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:11
A Blessing: “Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.” 2 Peter 1:2
Also you can use songs with each week too. Some like to use a song each day and some just one weekly. We have done it both ways, my kids really love music and this is a great way for them to learn some wonderful Christmas songs. In the book, We Light the Candles it gives some suggestions. Also, this book Christmas Carols for a Kids Heart is a GREAT book and resource to have.
We also read some stories from a few books we have. I am particular fond of the series by Arnold Ytreeide. There are 3 books in the series. Jotham’s Journey, Bartholomew’s Passage, and Tabitha’s Travels. We started this set of books 2 years ago and have finished the first 2 and this year will do Tabitha’s Travels. The boys love them and they are wonderful! Another book that we love during Advent is The ADVENTure of Christmas by Lisa Welchel. It is excellent! We also have We Light the Candles that we tie in. 🙂 Here is a free resource from A Holy Experience, if you wish to do the Jesse Tree instead or in addition to Free Jesse Tree Study. Caleb Voskamp makes Jesse Tree Wreaths for Advent, they are beautiful! You can get yours by going here Jesse Tree/Advent Wreath Here is a great new study out from What’s in the Bible, we will be adding this in this year as well :). Everyday Emmanuel
Jotham’s Journey: A Storybook for AdventBartholomew’s Passage: A Family Story for AdventTabitha’s Travels: A Family Story for AdventIshtar’s Odyssey: A Family Story for AdventThe Adventure of Christmas: Helping Children Find Jesus in Our Holiday TraditionsWe Light the Candles: Devotions Related to Family Use of the Advent WreathEveryday Emmanuel: Making the Most of Christmas for Busy Families
Read: More Christmas and Advent Posts!!!
This year I am personally doing an online Advent study put out by Good Morning Girls. Here it is GMG Advent study. Some other resources I have for adults are, Preparing your Heart for Advent, Watch for the Light ( Readings for Advent and Christmas), God is in the Manger, The Advent Jesse Tree ( for both adults and children), Prayers and Promises for Christmas, Our Savior Come, The Faith of St Nick ( would be ok for older kids…I will be reading this with my almost 9 year old this year), Behold! Cultivating Attentiveness in the Season of Advent, and The Promise, Christmas is Jesus.
Don’t miss out on my Christmas Studies that are in my store! Bible studies, Advent, St Nicholas and more!
Preparing Your Heart for Christmas – An Advent DevotionalWatch for the Light: Readings for Advent and ChristmasGod Is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and ChristmasThe Advent Jesse Tree: Devotions for Children and Adults to Prepare for the Coming of the Christ Child at ChristmasPrayers and Promises for Christmas: Biblical Encouragement for the Holiday Season (Value Books)Our Savior Come: An Advent CompanionThe Journey: Walking the Road to BethlehemTHE FAITH OF ST. NICK (VALUE BOOKS)Behold! Cultivating Attentiveness in the Season of Advent
Some people really like to do the Jesse Tree for Advent and we do read a children’s book about this but we do not do the tree. I would like to sometime, but we have not added it in just yet. This is just a good starting place, I hope that if you add in Advent you take time to be still, listen, and reflect on the coming of our Lord and Savior. Christmas is a stopping point on the way to Easter. The Bible tells us to be still and know that I am God. I pray that in the hustle and bustle this year that you keep Christ as your focus. May God Bless all of you this CHRISTmas season and through the whole year to come.