Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Advent Season - Start your own tradition

The Women's Ministry at my church put on a wonderful program last night centered around the tradition of Advent. We had the ladies in the audience follow along with the lighting of the candles and experience the entire season of Advent in one sitting. I had the honor of writing a narrative to explain each candle and the significance. I had several ladies ask me about narrative so I thought I would share with each of you if would care to use it or read it in it's entirety. (as some of it was edited down due to time restrictions). You can start this tradition with your family. You can use a standard round wreath with room for 4 candles in the wreath and one in the center. Traditionally, there are 3 purples and 1 pink on the outside with the inside candle being white. The candles are lit in the following order each Sunday in the month of Advent (last Sunday was the 1st day so you're not too far behind). Prophecy(hope), Bethlehem (love), Shepherd (peace), Angel (joy- pink in color), and finally Christ (center white candle). Upon lighting of each candle, there is a specific scripture associated with each. Listed below is the introduction to the process:

I come before you as an ambassador on the road to rediscover the true meaning of Christmas. I know I am not alone in the hustle and bustle of preparing what has come to be known as “the holidays.” We find ourselves buried in the myriad of activities that are besieged upon us at this time of the year. It doesn’t help that our “normal” day to day activities do not cease or even let up a little. As the Christmas season approaches, we find ourselves with a calendar full of events like parties and programs; our homes and yards get overrun with decorations to befit the occasion; and for some reason or another we try to channel our inner Martha Stewart in the kitchen. Don’t get me started on the gifts – the gifts we NEED to buy for people that don’t NEED them with money we can’t afford to spend.

Today I want each of you to step back from all the chaos that we have allowed Christmas to become and go with me back to a time before Christmas as we know it. --Before commercialism, cell phones, and secret Santas - Back to a time of tradition and family – We’re taking a journey in our hearts….Back to Bethlehem.

Next is the description of the Prophecy candle:

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. Isaiah 9:6

Well over 3000 years ago, the Jews were crying out for a Savior – one who would redeem them from the chains of bondage that enslaved them. The Old Testament book of Isaiah foretold the coming of such a Man by naming specific criteria that would make it apparent that He was in fact the Messiah. People were looking for the signs and wonders. They were looking expectantly for their Messiah.

Our life today may be a little faster paced, stressed and advanced than that of our ancestors but we should be looking with the same expectancy for the coming of the Savior. Today, those of us who know Him as our Lord are waiting for His return in order to be released from chains that enslave us. We just like them should hold out Hope for His coming.

Week 2 - Bethlehem Candle

"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. " Micah 5:2

Our Lord gave up His entire splendor on the throne to come and walk with us on the Earth. In comparison, His Earthly beginning was to start in a humble little town in a lowly stable. From all initial appearances, Bethlehem seemed insignificant and mostly the norm for that period of history, yet something amazing was about to happen... LOVE in human form was about to come to Earth. This city like those of who accept Christ as our Savior was never the same after that wonderful night over 2000 years ago.

Christ neither requires nor expects anything extravagant from us in order to receive His favor. Our hearts and lives do not need to be a picture of perfection -just the opposite. Christ bids us come just as we are. The more humble our hearts, the more of a work He can do in and through us.

I will post days 3-4 tomorrow.

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