Christmas/Advent

Advent Devotional: 1st Sunday (by Mark Roberts)

I am posting Advent devotionals this December prepared by Rev. Dr.  Mark D. Roberts.  Enjoy! 

Advent is a season of waiting, expecting, and hoping.  Beginning four Sundays prior to Christmas and ending on Christmas Eve, Advent helps us to prepare for the coming, or “advent” of the Christ child at Christmas.  (The word “advent” comes from the Latin word that means “coming.”) 

For hundreds of years Christians have used an Advent wreath to inspire their hopes for the coming of Christ.  By lighting candles and reading Bible verses, we are reminded about the meaning of Christ’s birth and become more excited about his coming in the past, in the future, and in our own lives.

There is no set meaning for the candles of the Advent wreath (except for the middle candle, which always signifies the birth of Jesus the Christ).  Some wreaths use all white candles; others use three purple candles, one pink candle, and one white candle in the middle.  The purple candles remind us of how serious and solemn God’s people have been in waiting for the Messiah.  The pink signifies the joy of our waiting.  The white is triumphant and celebrative because Christ is born.

What follows is a guide for personal worship that can accompany the lighting of the candles of the Advent wreath.  You can do this on your own with a real Advent wreath. Or you can do this online by “lighting” the wreath through appropriate clicking. Or you can use this guide with your family, which might certainly include friends. All families are different, and I encourage you to adapt or to change what is suggested — or do something completely original.  Parents will want to make changes to fit the developmental stages of their children. 

Speaking of children, they have great expectations and hopes during Advent — usually associated with Christmas presents, Santa Claus, holiday celebrations, and so forth.  Rather than discouraging these hopes (which is a “hopeless” task!), I would urge you to help your children get the “feel” of Advent by relating their hopes to biblical Advent themes. 

I pray that this guide will help you prepare for the coming of the Christ child!


The Lighting of the First Candle: Waiting for the Shepherd

 

The First Sunday of Advent (or thereabouts)

We Remember the Meaning of Advent

[Note: Someone can read or paraphrase the following.  Or you might want to discuss the meaning of Advent together.]

Advent is a word that means “coming” or “visit”.  In the Christian season of Advent we prepare for the “advent” of Christ at Christmas.  Our preparation includes many things:

• We remember Israel’s hope for the coming of God’s Messiah to save, to forgive, and to restore them.

• We remember our hope for the second coming of Jesus.

• We remember our need for a Savior to save us from our sins.

• We prepare to welcome Christ at Christmas into our world . . . and into our hearts.

By lighting one candle each week of Advent, we help ourselves to get ready for the birth of Jesus.  The candles have different meanings, each based upon the Bible.  These meanings help us to understand how special the birth of Jesus is for us.

Today we focus on the coming of Christ as our Shepherd.

Prayer for God’s Help

[This prayer can be read, or simply used as a model.]

Dear God, thank you for this season of Advent that helps us to prepare for the coming of Christ at Christmas.  As we read the Bible and light a candle, may excitement for Christ’s coming burn in our hearts.  Amen.

Scripture Readings

[Parents, you may wish to abbreviate or eliminate certain readings depending on the age(s) of your child(ren).  You may also want to read these selections out of a Children’s Bible.]

Psalm 80:1-7

In this Psalm we join the people of Israel as they invite God their Shepherd to save and to restore them.

Isaiah 40:1-11

This passage looks ahead to the coming of the Lord, who will care for his people like a shepherd.

Revelation 7:9-17

Like God’s people before the coming of Christ, we also look ahead to the time when Christ, who is both the Lamb and our Shepherd, will finish his work and “God will wipe away every tear” from our eyes.

Lighting of the Candle

[As someone lights the first purple candle, the following should be read or paraphrased. If you’re doing this online, in order to “light” the next Advent candle, click on the wick of the purple candles until you “light” the right one.]

We light this candle because, like God’s people centuries ago, we also look forward with hope to the coming of the Shepherd.  The purple color of the candle reminds us of the seriousness of our hope.

Prayer of Hope

[To be read or paraphrased.]

Dear God, as we light this candle, we hope for your coming as our Good Shepherd.  Please gather us in your arms, feed us with spiritual food, wipe away every tear from our eyes, and “let your face shine, that we may be saved”.  Come, our Shepherd!  Amen.

Closing Song

[To be sung to the tune of “O come let us adore him” from “O Come All Ye Faithful.”]

O come to us, our Shepherd,
O come to us, our Shepherd,
O come to us, our Shepherd,
Christ the Lord!

3 replies »

  1. Thank you for publishing the Advent devotionals! I am an executive director for a non profit agency that is faith based and wanted to do something about Advent at my weekly team meetings. I have the wreath made, just was looking for some really good devotionals….thanks so much! Joanna

  2. Thank you for your devotional. I am the Chaplin for our choir and in the middle of our rehersal I read a devotional for the choir. I was looking for something special for Advent and you have provided a great reflection on this time of the season.

  3. THANK YOU ! I do devotions for a nursing home every Sunday, using your Advent devotions is just what I was looking for. Billie Sue Bowlby

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s