Happy New Year!
Advent is the first season of the Christian liturgical year encompassing the four weeks leading up to Christmas. (2014: Nov 30, Dec 7, Dec 14, Dec 21). During Advent, we actually celebrate the beginning of the year for Christians!
The word “Advent.” The term “Advent” stems from the latin word adventus, meaning “coming,” which further derives from a Greek word, parousia referring to the second coming of Christ. The season of Advent anticipates Christ from two perspectives: first, to recall the ancient longing for the coming of the Messiah, and second, to be alert for His return.
The history of Advent. For history buffs, the celebration of Advent was first recorded in the Gelasian Sacramentary, a Roman Catholic worship guide for churches compiled around 750AD near Paris. As time went by, Protestants, namely Lutherans, Anglicans (Episcopalians), Presbyterians, and Methodists, and some Anabaptists (i.e. CBC) continued this practice. Fast-forward to the present where we at Camelback Bible Church celebrate each week of the four-week period on Sunday mornings during worship with one of our families lighting a candle in the Advent Wreath (of which I will discuss in a later blog).
Advent during my childhood. As a German Baptist (Mennonite Brethren), I grew up in Canada celebrating Advent…sort of. I had my own Advent Calendar where I could open a daily cut-out with an image of the nativity (some lucky families didn’t have images behind the ‘door’ but chocolates!). The final image on December 25 was the Christ child (I have no idea where the chocolate could have been). A local carpenter had built a stand and hanging hoop where we could weave evergreen around and add four candles for the four weeks of Advent and the fifth candle for Christmas Eve. We were ignorant of the Gelasian Sacramentary and all the subsequent Protestant worship practices, so we didn’t have a formal process of celebrating Advent. But we always recited a (German) poem when lighting the candle every week:
Advent, Advent a little candle lights;
First one, then two, then three, then four
Then knocks the Christ-child at our door.
I don’t think our family missed the general gist – we were preparing ourselves for the great event of Christmas – but it was pretty rudimentary. It was, however, a wonderful way for a child to prepare for Christmas (and eagerly anticipate gifts!). As I grew up, the ritual meant increasingly less. It wasn’t until I came to CBC that my desire to celebrate Advent rekindled (pun intended).
Celebrating Advent. I discovered that the Anglican Book of Common Prayer remains the go-to guide for celebrating Advent for English-speaking Christians. The Scriptures used in the guide cover the entire arch of God’s revelation to us, revealing that Advent is a time to celebrate and deepen our understanding of God’s love for His creation. We start in the darkness of sin and gradually move to Christ’s salvation with the lighting of an additional candle each week.
On Sunday, November 30, take the opportunity as a family to read the Scriptures below, talk about the coming of the promised Messiah, sing together, and anticipate the impending celebration of Christ’s birth on December 25.
Advent Week One: Sunday, November 30
Set the mood by lowering the lights and and preparing candles. You’ll need five – one for each week plus one for Christmas Day.
Read the scriptures.
- Isaiah 64: 1-9 (Note the yearning anticipation for salvation.)
- Psalm 80: 1-7; 16-18 (What is the common phrase in this psalm?)
- 1 Corinthians 1:3-9 (Think of Paul responding to Isaiah and the psalmist.)
- Mark 13:24-37 (Jesus speaks of His two Advents – the one at the present moment, and the one to come.)
Discuss what you’ve read.
- Retell the purpose of Advent.
- Discuss the history of the word Advent.
- Talk about the millions around the world who are celebrating this moment simultaneously.
- Discuss each reading – who wrote it, who was it written to, what are they saying, who is our hope
Light the first Advent candle.
Sing together: “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence.”
- “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence” sung by Cynthia Clawson
- LifeWay: Advent Week One
- Music and Lyrics: “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silent
Written by Philip Martens - Website
Philip Martens has lived in Phoenix for twenty years, but grew up in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Raised in a Christian environment (family, church, school), he desired a relationship with Christ at the age of six and was later baptized at thirteen. He graduated from ASU with degrees in History, Accountancy, and a Masters in Accountancy. His wife of 16 years, Susi, also hails from Canada; they have four children. He currently manages the US portfolio of a Canadian real estate investment trust. He has been a member of CBC since 1998.