Friday, November 30, 2012

Candles, Because the King is Coming!

This is not a book review. It is adapted from an article I wrote for The Bible Newsletter in December, 1982. I hope you find it helpful as we celebrate Advent again.
"It’s my turn to light the candles," said David.
"No, It’s my turn," Anne argued.
"No," insisted Mary. "You did it last night. It’s my turn."
"When’s my turn?" wailed Martha.
"You’re after me," said John, looking disdainfully down at his sister, "cause you’re the youngest."
"All right," said Mother, moderating since Dad was out of town. "It’s Mary’s turn. And John may put the candles out when we’re finished."
They all settled down in their places again as Mary took the matches from Mother and carefully lit the Advent candles, her small hands trembling with responsibility, while the other children watched, each one ready to take over the job, if necessary.
We always have candles at supper, but during Advent the after-dinner lighting of the candles in the Advent wreath in the middle of our dining room table is a special treat.
The children sit quietly in the candlelight while Mother, Dad, or one of the older children (we take turns) reads the verses that tell of the coming of Christ. There may be a comment or question on the Scripture just read. Perhaps we will sing a favorite hymn or Christmas carol. We finish with a prayer of thanksgiving to God for his great provision for all of our needs, especially for our Savior Jesus Christ.
Advent was established many years ago as a preparation for Christmas, just as Lent is a preparation for Easter. Four Sundays before Christmas, Advent begins. Its spirit is one of longing and expectation, recalling the centuries during which the faithful waited for the birth of the promised Messiah.
Some Advent wreaths are made to hold four candles, some five, the fifth being lit on Christmas Day. Some people use three purple candles and one pink, the three purple signifying the liturgical color of penitence, and the one pink, the "joyful" candle used on the third Sunday because Advent is half over. (Soon he is coming!) Sometimes all white candles are used. We often decorate our Advent wreath with cuttings of yew or pine or spruce, adding to its beauty. These sprigs can be changed for fresh cuttings as they dry out.
During the first week of Advent, each evening after dinner, one candle is lit just before the family devotional time together. At the beginning of each week, another candle is lit. On Christmas Day, the candles may be very short, so white candles for the next twelve days of Christmas and Epiphany may replace the used ones.
Books for meditation and prayers for each day of Advent are available. Or, you might like to use the following list of readings, which were printed in The Banner some years ago. We have used these readings during many Advent seasons and found them helpful in drawing our hearts and minds away from the harried commercialism of the season, and toward the coming of the King.
First Week
Sun   The Savior would be seed of a woman, Gen 3:1-15; Gal 4:4,5

Mon   Promised seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Gen 12:1-3; Matt 1:1,2; Gen
              17:15-22; Luke 3:34; Gen 28:10-15

Tues   Would come from the root of Jesse, Isa 11:1-10; Rom 15:1-13

Wed    Would be heir to David’s throne, Ps 89:1-4; 19-29; Luke 1:32, 33

Thurs  Christ’s birth and kingdom foretold, Isa 9:6, 7; Phil 2:5-11

Fri      To be born of a virgin, Isa 7:14; Matt 1:22, 23
           To be born in Bethlehem, Mic 5:2; Matt 2:1-6

Sat      A light unto the Gentiles, Isa 9:1, 2; Matt 4:12-17; Isa 60:1-3; Luke 2:25-32
Second Week
Sun    Christ to be a servant, Isa 42:1-4; Matt 12:9-21

Mon   Christ the shepherd, Isa 40:9-11; John 10:1-11

Tues   Marks of Christ’s ministry, Isa 61:1, 2; Luke 4:16-21

Wed   Christ to be a prophet, Deut 18:18, 19; Matt 21:10, 11; Acts 3:19-23

Thurs Triumphal entry foretold, Zech 9:9; Isa 62: 10, 11; Matt 21:1-9

Fri     Christ would be rejected, a Man of Sorrows, Isa 53:1-6; Luke 17:25; Matt 8:17

Sat     Christ the atoning Lamb, the Sin-Bearer, Isa 53:7-12; John 1:29; Heb 9:28
Third Week
Sun    Christ would conquer death and hell, Ps 16:7-10; Matt 16:21; Isa 25:8;
              Acts 2:22-27

Mon   Would ascend and intercede for his people, Ps 110:1-4; Ps 68:18; Acts 2:32-36

Tues   Christ will come again as Judge, Dan 7:13, 14; Matt 25:31-46

Wed   Christ, the King of Glory, Ps 24; Rev 5:11-14

Thurs We seek mercy and pardon, Ps 25

Fri     A forerunner promised; another Elijah, Mal 4:5, 6; Matt 11:7-15;
            Mal 3:1; Luke 3:1-6

Sat    John’s message of repentance, Isa 40:1-8; Matt 3:1-12; John 1:19-23

Fourth Week
Sun    The angel appears to Zacharias, Luke 1:15-25

Mon   Birth of John the Baptist; song of Zacharias, Luke 1:57-80

Tues   The annunciation to Mary by the angel Gabriel, Luke 1:39-56

Wed   Mary visits Elizabeth; her "Magnificat," Luke 1:39-56

Thurs The angel appears to Joseph, Matt 1:18-25

Fri     The birth of Jesus Christ, Luke 2:1-20

—Lois Sibley