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Saturday, November 30, 2013

Advent Wreath Lighting & a Printable Family Devotional Guide

I'm just not a Christmas before Thanksgiving kind of girl.  I really love Thanksgiving and just can't bring myself to get Christmas boxes down until after Thanksgiving.  I do however make one exception for the Advent Preparation Workshop at our church.  The week before Thanksgiving, our church family gathers for a Thanksgiving feast before making advent wreaths and Christmas ornaments together as a family.  

The family LOVES our Advent wreath and enjoys lighting the candle and hearing a devotion each Sunday as we prepare for the birth of Christ.  My children do see and maybe hear the lighting of the Advent wreath in church each Sunday of Advent, but if I’m being honest, I don’t think that my littles fully understand or pay attention the entire hour of worship.  

Honey and I started the tradition for our family to celebrate the tradition of Advent at family dinner each Sunday when C-man was about 3 years old.  It is important to us that the children learn about the tradition and further impress upon them why we celebrate Christmas.  

The word Advent mean ‘arrival’ or ‘coming’ in Latin and represents the approach of Christ’s birth (and fulfillment of the prophecies about that event.) and the awaiting of Christ’s second coming.  It is composed of the four Sundays before Christmas day, starting on the Sunday closest to November 30th and ending on Christmas.  For a more in-depth look perspective visit The History of Advent.  

For Christians, Advent is a time of reflection about the amazing gift that God gave us in the person of His Son who came to live among us on Earth.  It is also an opportunity to restore Jesus to His rightful place as the center of our holiday celebrations.  

About the Advent wreath 

The practice of lighting the Advent candles began in Germany by non-Christians.  They lit candles surrounded by evergreen branches in their windows on cold winter nights to signify their hope for the coming warmth and light of spring.  Later in the sixteenth century, German Lutherans kept the practice alive and added symbolism of the birth of Christ.  

The evergreen represents Everlasting life.  The circular shape represents God’s unending love and as Christ the true King.  The candles represent Christ, the light of the world.  Our family uses 3 purple candles, one rose colored candle and a white candle. On the first Sunday, the first candle (purple) is lit and is called the 'Candle of Hope' or the  ‘Prophecy Candle’ in remembrance of the prophets, primarily Isaiah, who foretold the birth of Christ.  This candle represents hope in the anticipation of the coming Messiah.  

Each Sunday and additional candle is lit until Christmas Eve.  The second candle (purple) is known as the 'Candle of Preparation' or the 'Bethlehem Candle' and represents that God kept his promise that a savior would be born in Bethlehem and that he loved us so much that he sent his son to die for our sins.  The third candle (rose color) is customarily called the ‘Shepherd Candle’ or 'Candle of Joy' and represents the joy in the birth of the Savior.  The fourth candle (purple) is often called the ‘Angel Candle’ or 'Candle of Love' and represents peace.  On Christmas Eve, the white center candle is traditionally lit and is called the ‘Christ Candle’ and represents the life of Christ has come into the world.  The white color represents purity as Christ is the sinless, spotless, pure Savior.  You can read more about the history of Advent Here.  

I let the children take turns reading parts of the devotion each Sunday evening, lead our song and lead the prayer.  It is one of our favorite family traditions and the children were thrilled last Wednesday to make our new Advent wreath.  

You can make your own Advent wreath with just a foam board, candles, greenery, and ribbon.  You can pick up these items at your local craft store.  (Hobby Lobby sells Advent candle bundles.)

Our church’s children’s minister kindly forwarded the weekly devotion that our church supplied this season and you can download the weekly devotions HERE on Scribd.  

I hope that your family enjoys the tradition and symbolism of Advent this season.  What Christmas or Advent traditions does your family cherish?


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