The celebration of Advent is truly the cornerstone of the Lambdin family Christmas. For those Christians who have not been exposed to church liturgy – celebrating advent may seem strange or too “formal”. I’ve even had believers say – “You’re not Catholic” or “Why do you want to do rituals like that?” Personally I think having a family advent service is one of the best ways to keep Christ at the center of your Christmas season. And I am a firm believer (as is the Lord) in rituals as a way to build a firm foundation of faith in our lives. (and perhaps I am a little bit Catholic – I certainly share their passionate pro life views when it comes to children in and out of the womb!)
What is Advent?
The word advent comes from the Latin word – adventus – meaning coming. By celebrating advent you are celebrating the coming of Jesus. For Christians not only did Jesus comes historically – being born into this world – but He also has come into our lives as our Savior and Lord. According to the Scriptures, Jesus is also coming again for His church. For our family the advent season is a remembrance and celebration of His physical birth as well as His coming into our lives. It is also a time for us to prepare our hearts and lives for Him coming again!
When is Advent?
Traditionally advent is observed the four weeks proceeding Christmas day and Christmas Eve.
The Advent Wreath
The advent wreath is used to help symbolize and visualize the meaning of the four weeks. The wreath is decorated with five candles – one for each Sunday and one for Christmas Eve. The greenery around the wreath represents the gift of eternal life. The candles are traditionally – three purple, one pink and a center white candle.
The first candle (purple) symbolizes hope – the hope that the Messiah would come
The second candle (purple) symbolizes love – Gods love towards us for sending His Son Jesus to save us
The third candle (pink) symbolizes joy – the joy we find in Christ and his coming
The fourth candle (purple) symbolizes peace – the peace that comes in knowing Christ as Lord and Savior
The fifth candle is the Christ candle (white in center) which symbolizes purity
How we celebrate Advent
We have a family service each Sunday around the advent wreath. Many years ago I wrote two advent devotionals – one for families with very young children (these are short & sweet – and “hands on” – perfect for the young family) and another for families with older children that have meaningful family discussion questions as well as the opportunity to share the real meaning of Christmas with non believers.
We used the first one for many years but have since graduated to the older one despite still having small children. I may soon write a devotional that can be used for families with both older and younger children! (kind of like having a “kids message” in the middle)
The service consists of prayer, scripture reading, candle lighting, discussion, praise and worship and a Christmas blessing. It is something that we all look forward to and enjoy. But most importantly it keeps the focus on Jesus throughout the entire Christmas season.
I encourage you to begin a tradition of having a family advent service (even if you have very young children) – it’s not too late to start this year. Just pick up a wreath at your local craft store or go to your local Christian bookstore if you want a fancier one, get some candles and sit down with your family this week to celebrate Advent!
Perhaps I will find someone to type up our advent devotionals and put it online for you to use.