Embracing Emmanuel: Advent Countdown

embracingadvent
By Pat Fenner
I love Christmas! But I don’t enjoy all the hustle and bustle and too-many-events-planned craziness! It becomes really hard to remember the reason for the season when you’re spending your days and “free time” running from one thing and rushing to another. That’s why I try so hard to spend time and effort to slow down and emphasize significance of Advent. While our older children were young, I tried to recreate the elaborate service I had remembered from my own growing-up years. Of course, that particular one took place in a classroom of 30 students. Trying to create a similar event on a more intimate scale (think a family of 5 around the dinner table), obviously requires a different approach. So I went to work. We’ve used the short program below with our family for many years now. It’s brief enough to keep the little ones’ attention, and flexible enough to stretch out or adapt for the older kids.
For example, you don’t have to use the prayers as they’re written; you could ask your teen to pray. You can also ask one of the older kids to look up and read the Scriptures shown, or ask them to choose and read aloud one of their own favorites, or something else appropriate. A musically gifted child can play or sing one of the Christmas carols, or again, choose a different one, perhaps a personal favorite. Some families may make time for this each weeknight before dinner; others might make this a special Sunday-night-supper way to start the week. Be sensitive to your own family’s activity-level and interest. I have a special centerpiece I use for Advent, and purchase my candles during the summer, to make sure I get the right ones (we use 3 purple and 1 pink). Other than that, it’s a no-fuss, no-hassle way to celebrate the coming of our Savior, and a sweet and tender way to slow down and focus on the reason.
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advent wreathadvent wreath with candles
 

advent candlesadvent centerpiece with candles

First Sunday in Advent: We have come together to think about Advent, the coming of Jesus, the Christ, into our lives. Scripture: “Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens; Your faithfulness to the skies . . . How priceless is your unfailing love!” Psalm 16:5-7

Light the 1st candle: We light this candle and thank you, Lord, for Your love

  • Sing: Away in a Manger
  • Prayer: Dear God, help us love others with the kind of love Jesus taught and lived. Amen.

Second Sunday in Advent: This is the 2nd Sunday in Advent, when we prepare for the coming of Jesus, the Christ, into our lives. (Light the first candle.)

  • Scripture: “Shout with joy to God, all the earth! Sing the glory of His name! Make His praise glorious!” Psalm 66:1, 2
  • Light the 2nd candle: We light this candle and thank you, Lord, for joy. Sing: Joy to the World
  • Prayer: Dear God, we thank you for your love and joy that is with us always. Amen.

Third Sunday in Advent: This is the 3rd Sunday in Advent, when we prepare for the coming of Jesus, the Christ, into our lives. (Light the first and second candles.)

  • Scripture: “The Lord gives strength to His people; the Lord blesses His people with peace.” Psalm 29:11 Light the 3rd candle: We light this candle and thank you, Lord, for peace.
  • Sing: O Little Town of Bethlehem
  • Prayer: Dear God, we thank you for the love and joy of Christmas, the birthday of Jesus who brings us peace. Amen.
  • Fourth Sunday in Advent: This is the 4th Sunday in Advent, when we prepare for the coming of Jesus, the Christ, into our lives. (Light the first 3 candles.)
  • Scripture: “We wait in hope for the Lord; He is our help and our shield. Psalm 33:20

Light the 4th candle: We light this candle and thank you, Lord, for hope

  • Sing: O Come, All Ye Faithful
  • Prayer: Dear God, thank you for Jesus, in whom we place our hope. Amen
  • Christmas Day: This is Christmas Day, the birthday of Jesus, the Christ!! (Light all 4 candles.)
  • Scripture: “I will praise you, O Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonders . . .I will sing praise to your name, O Most High!” Psalm 9:1, 2
  • Light the white center candle: We light this candle and thank you, Lord, for Your Son!
  • Sing: Silent Night Prayer:
  • Say the Lord’s Prayer together

Enjoy celebrating Advent together as we count down to the birth of Lord Jesus Christ.

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