What is Advent?
Advent: The anticipated arrival of, the coming of something expected. This is the season when we celebrate the coming of the One whose arrival changed the whole world, the One we call “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” There’s much anticipation this time of year. Children and adults “just can’t wait” to see what’s wrapped up for them under the tree. Parties and plays promise to deliver excitement and entertainment like you've never experienced before.
Retailers hope to cash in, making a third of their annual sales between Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Eve. Although there is no biblical mandate for celebrating Jesus' birth, for those who choose to do so, it is a good time to consider why Jesus came to earth in human form. For many, Christmas is special because it is a time to reflect on the hope of 'peace on earth.'
Therefore, it is also a good time to reflect on the human condition that prevents peace on earth. Humans are flawed, and it is not feasible to think that this peace will ever come from warm fuzzy feelings of a child in a manger, and people trying to be a little bit nicer during the four weeks of the Christmas season.
"Peace I leave you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid" (John 14:27). The peace that Jesus speaks of does not come from within. It comes from without- from Him (Revelation 3:20). Therefore, true 'inner peace' comes from knowing Him.
But what about the promise of world peace that the angels spoke of in Luke?: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased" (Luke 2:14). Unfortunately, the tradition that this verse refers to world peace is not true. The verse is a promise to those with whom He is pleased. This is consistent with the life and message of Jesus Christ: "I do not give to you as the world gives." Jesus' peace was promised to those who have a relationship with Him. This peace is the peace of knowing God, and being sure of our future beyond our time here on earth. And yet many people who claim the name of Christ will still not live a life that reflects this peace within themselves or in their consideration for others.
So, if you consider yourself a Christian, maybe this is a good time to think about whether your life reflects the peace that Jesus promised. Does your life demonstrate Jesus' demand that you pursue peace with your fellow human beings all year long? [Hebrews 12:14, Psalm 34:14, Romans 14:19]
Making an Advent Wreath
Many people observe Advent with an advent wreath. If you choose to make one for your family, you will need 5 candles for advent. They can be tapers or pillars. Usually, four of the candles are the same color, while the fifth one is white. Each Sunday of advent, you will light a new candle, so that by the fourth Sunday of advent, all 4 candles are lit. For example, on the first Sunday of Advent, you will light a candle and each day that week you will light that same candle. On the second Sunday of Advent, however, you will light the candle you had been lighting the previous week, and one more. Each day of the second week, you will light these two candles, and so forth each week. On Christmas Eve you will light the final candle.
Next, you can either make or purchase a wreath in which to place the candles. The middle candle, which is lit on Christmas Eve, is usually white, while the surrounding candles can be any color you choose. Our family prefers to use four cranberry or purple candles, and one white one, but all five can be the same color. You will begin each advent devotional time with the lighting of the candle(s) for that week, and end by blowing it or them out. When my children were younger, each child was very excited to have a 'turn' blowing out a candle on their assigned night.