For the last few days or so, I have been posting things about Advent. In our home, observing Advent means that we read certain passages of scripture centered on the coming Messiah and the Christmas story each night and take probably 15 minutes or so to listen to those scriptures, light some candles, sing a carol and pray together. (Many nights there is a piece of chocolate, too!)
The following are reasons why we do it:
- We find that adding rhythm to our lives contributes to meaning in our lives. Just like a song with only random notes probably doesn't make much sense or convey much meaning or beauty, so a life without any rhythms usually results in a dullness of living day in and day out. In the hurried pace of the Christmas season, a daily rhythm that involves scripture, prayer, and reflection helps and nourishes my heart with the truths behind the celebrating.
- This is a way to identify with the larger Church, both in terms of geography and time. By reading the prophecies, narratives and Psalms about Jesus' coming, lighting the candles, reflecting on the love of God in sending Christ, etc., we are doing not only what much of the Church is doing at this time around the world, but we are connecting with the longing of the people of God to see the Savior come. That's important, as that is what much of the Bible is about--people waiting on God to break into our world.
- Advent helps me to keep Christmas the sacred event it is. So much in our world has cheapened and merchandised what should otherwise be precious and profoundly spiritual. By taking the time out to connect with my family over the truths of scripture about Jesus' coming, we help to keep the proper focus for ourselves and our children in the face of countless messages in the media and in our culture that tell us Christmas is not about Christ.
- Advent helps me to see the picture of the whole story of the Bible. Depending on the age of your family, if you read each of the Bible passages given each night, you will pick up on many significant themes, promises and pre-cursors to the coming of God's Son, such as hope, peace, redemption, exodus, curse, freedom, forgiveness, royalty, etc. Through the discipline of Advent, we become more aware of the flow of the Bible story and the scarlet thread throughout it.
I want to challenge you to take the step to read the scriptures, pray with your family (if you have one living with you), and focus on Christ coming into the world and to you. As you read, keep in mind that you are not just reading recitations of the familiar events of the first Christmas night. The passages are intended to help you identify with the longing for a Messiah to come to the world and save us.
This December at First Assembly Community Ministries
in Lafayette, Indiana, we are handing out Advent calendars to children and giving scripture reading guides to people at our church to challenge and equip them to focus on Christ's coming during the next four weeks. Join us, if you're part of our congregation!
Again, if you've not had a chance to read it, here is a set of excellent tips
for celebrating advent with children from my wife Tracy Bradford!
Christmas doesn't have to be surrendered to people who don't believe in Christ. It belongs to Christians entirely!
Labels: advent, Christianity, Christmas, Church life, First Assembly Community Ministries, Jesus Christ, prayer, prophecy, worship