Sunday begins the Advent season, which is the four Sundays leading up to the celebration of Christmas. Advent looks back at Christ’s first arrival and anticipates the time when he will come again. Just as the light came into the darkness when Jesus was born, so he will appear again in glorious light that will vanquish the darkness finally and completely.
In the busyness of the Christmas season, Advent serves as a wonderful reminder to slow down and meditate on who Christ is and what he has done. One great practical way to do this is to have Advent devotions each night with your family. Taking the time to read Scripture, pray, and sing great songs of the faith will remind you of the work Jesus accomplished when he came the first time and what he will do when he comes again.
Light the Advent Candles
The Advent wreath contains three purple candles and one pink candle in a circle with a white candle in the middle. During devotions, light one candle during the first week of Advent, and one new candle each additional week. One Christmas Eve, light the white Christ child candle in the middle. The increasing light reminds us of the darkness that existed before Jesus came into the world and serves as a testimony to his Gospel which continues to bring light to a dark world.
While lighting the candles, whoever is leading devotion says, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light, and the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” Then the family responds, “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”
Read the Bible
If your family has struggled before with devotions, Advent is a good time to get started again. Begin these devotions with the reading of Scripture. Several great options exist for deciding what to read. You can focus on the narratives of Jesus’ birth in Matthew 1-2 and Luke 1-2. Also, you can use a list of readings (http://www.biblestudytools.com/topical-verses/advent-bible-verses) from both testaments that focus on the coming Messiah.
There are also several good books with devotions you can read with your family. Nancy Guthrie’s http://amzn.to/2gt1fsaLet Every Heart Prepare Him Room, John Piper’s The Dawning of Indestructible Joy, or Scott James’ The Expected One will give you passages to read and questions to discuss together. The goal is to spend a short time focusing on the Scripture and to think about who Jesus is and what he has come to do.
One of the great joys of the Christmas season is singing together as a family. Many Christmas hymns do more than bring back good memories, they also serve to teach the great truths of the faith. Songs such as Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, What Child is This, and Joy to the World point us to the glorious work of Jesus and the sovereign grace of God that brings us back to him. You may choose to sing several of these songs a night or focus on one for the entirety of Advent. Singing together celebrates what Jesus has done and reinforces the teaching of God’s word.
Close out by spending some time together as a family in prayer. Pray through your family’s needs and also pray in light of some of the themes covered in your Advent reading. This models for your kids how to thank God for what he has done for us in Christ. Another thing you can do is to pray for families who send you Christmas cards. Pull one card out of the pile every night and pray for the family on the card. Then send them a note or a message to let them know you were praying for them.
Making the time for Advent devotions is a great way to slow down and remember what is most important this holiday season. Reading, praying, and singing turns our hearts away from the busyness and materialism of the world and draws them near to Christ, who loved us and gave himself up for us.
“How to Read the Bible Every Day“
For Further Reading:
Hidden Christmas by Timothy Keller
Child in the Manger by Sinclair Ferguson