Advent Study

Bible Basics... Layers of Understanding

Join Bible Basics... Layers of Understanding’s Advent Study where we explore the Meaning of Advent, the Advent Calendar, the Meaning and Origins of the Advent Wreath, and the Meaning of the Advent Candles.




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Bible Basics Welcoming Introduction to Advent
and Advent Litany

I. Welcoming

God is good, all the time.
All the time, God is good.

Jesus Christ is the one who unites us and brings us together – we are all one in Jesus Christ. You were one of us… before you first stepped through the door!

II. Joys & Concerns

Rejoice with those who rejoice;
mourn with those who mourn.

Romans 12:16

III. Opening Prayer

Dear Lord,
Open our eyes to see Your blessings
Open our ears to hear Your Word
Open our minds to Your understanding
And open our hearts and fill them with Your love.
Amen

Your eyes have never seen,
your ears have never heard,
you cannot imagine
the greatness and wonders
God has in store for you.

1 Corinthians 2:9

We open this Bible to remind us
that all talks here are based on scripture.

In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.

John 1:1

V. Lighting of the Candle

We light this candle to remind us that God is with us.

“For where two or three come together
in my name,
there am I with them.”

Matthew 18:20

For you were once darkness,
but now you are light in the Lord.
Live as children of light.

Ephesians 5:8

(Advent Litany)

VI. Voluntary opportunity to share your faith.

Witness and Share Your Faith

VII. The Lesson

VIII. Make a Joyful Noise

IX. Closing Prayer

X. Benediction

As you leave this place,

May the living Lord go with you.

May he go behind you, to encourage you,

Beside you, to befriend you in obedient ministry,

Above you, to watch over you,

Beneath you, to lift you from your sorrows,

Within you, to give you the gifts of faith, hope, and love,

And always before you… to show you the way.

And all God’s people said,

Amen.

Dr. Blair Monie’s traditional benediction,
Senior Pastor of

Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church.
I believe that the best thing about Blair’s Benediction is that you don’t leave God at church; God goes home with you!



Mary treasured up these things
and pondered them in her heart.

Luke 2:19





Love the Lord your God with all your heart
and with all your soul
and with all your strength.
These commandments that I give you today
are to be upon your hearts.
Impress them on your children....

Tie them as symbols on your hands
and bind them on your foreheads.
Write them on the doorframes of your houses
and on your gates.
Deuteronomy 6:5-9 adapted





Bible Basics Goals

1. To help everyone to have a closer relationship with God.

2. To help people who do not have a church home to find a new church home.

3. To encourage people of faith to invite outsiders to their church home; and to obey Christ’s Great Commission.

4. To work as a tool to evangelize, witness, and testify to the Lord.

5. To work as an educational tool for people who are new to the faith and as a review, renewal, and reaffirmation for those who are mature in their faith.

6. To help us to discover our hidden talents and gifts; to tread into deeper waters, and to go beyond our comfort zone.

7. To encourage people to daily prayer, devotionals, daily reading of the Bible, and to look up scripture in the Bible; to adopt a Bible and to have “Faith Emergency Kits” available.

8. To encourage everyone to take the Disciple Bible Study Class or to create or join a small Bible Study Group.

9. To encourage everyone to read The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren.

10. To encourage believers into action and to do good deeds.

Now that you know these things,
you will be blessed if you do them.

John 13:17




Candy and Color Definitions

The colorful candies are not a whim of overindulgence, or extravagance of being selfish and greedy, or trying to impress people. This feast of candies is a visual symbol of “our cup runnith over,” how God’s blessings are overflowing. The candies are used as a visual symbol of God’s abundant love and grace. The colors help us to see and recognize the wonders, the blessings, and the miracles of God in our everyday life.
We do not want to be “spiritually colorblind.”



Advent Litany

"Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth shall declare your praise."
As our nights grow longer and our days grow short,
we look on these earthly signs--light and green branches--
and remember God's promise to our world:
Christ, our Light and our Hope, will come.
Listen to the words of Isaiah the prophet:
The people that walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those who lived in a land as dark as death
a light has dawned.
You have increased their joy
and given them gladness;
they rejoice in your presence
as those who rejoice at harvest,
as warriors exult when dividing spoil.

Isaiah 9:1-2

Then all pray:

O God, rejoicing,
we remember the promise of your Son.
As the light from this candle,
may the blessings of Christ come upon us,
brightening our way
and guiding us by his truth.
May Christ our Savior bring life
into the darkness of our world,
and to us, as we wait for his coming.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Amen




Lighting of the Advent Candles

FIRST SUNDAY
We light this candle as a symbol of Christ our Hope.
May the light sent from God shine in the darkness
to show us the way of salvation.
O come, O come, Emmanuel.

Isaish 60:2-3

SECOND SUNDAY
We light this candle as a symbol of Christ the Way.
May the Word sent from God through the prophets
lead us to the way of salvation.
O come, O come, Emmanuel.

Mark 1:4

THIRD SUNDAY
We light this candle as a symbol of Christ our Joy.
May the joyful promise of your presence, O God,
make us rejoice in our hope of salvation. O come, O come, Emmanuel.

Isaiah 35:10

FOURTH SUNDAY
Isaiah 9:6-7 NASB
We light this candle as a symbol of the Prince of Peace.
May the visitation of your Holy Spirit, O God,
make us ready for the coming of Jesus, our hope and joy.

O Come, O come, Emmanuel
6 For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

7 Of the increase of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David's throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the LORD Almighty
will accomplish this.

Isaiah 9:6–7



(HOPE TO JOY, U.S.A., 20TH CENTURY., ALT.)

Additional Scripture verses to be read during Advent:
Four Weeks Before Christmas Sunday:


Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign:
The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son,
and will call him Immanuel.

Isaiah 7:14

"But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me
one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,
from ancient times."

Micah 5:2





Advent Calendar

FOUR WEEKS BEFORE CHRISTMAS
MONDAY: Matthew 1:18-24 and Luke 1:26-33
TUESDAY: Luke 2:1-5
WEDNESDAY: Luke 2:6-7
THURSDAY: Luke 2:8-9
FRIDAY: Luke 2:10-12
SATURDAY: Luke 2:13-14

THREE WEEKS BEFORE CHRISTMAS
SUNDAY: Luke 2:15-16
MONDAY: Luke 2:17-18
TUESDAY: Luke 2:19
WEDNESDAY: Luke 2:20
THURSDAY: Luke 2:21
FRIDAY: Matthew 2:1-2
SATURDAY: Matthew 2:3-6

TWO WEEKS BEFORE CHRISTMAS
SUNDAY: Matthew 2:7-8
MONDAY: Matthew 2:9
TUESDAY: Matthew 2:10-11
WEDNESDAY: Matthew 2:12-15
THURSDAY: Galatians 4:4-5
FRIDAY: Ephesians 2:8-9
SATURDAY: 1 John 4:7-16

ONE WEEK BEFORE CHRISTMAS
* Please note, you may or may not have a full week before Christmas Day.
SUNDAY: Ephesians 2:12-22
MONDAY: John 7:37-38 and John 14:6
TUESDAY: Matthew 28:19-20
WEDNESDAY: John 8:12
THURSDAY: John 9:4-5 and Matthew 5:14-16
FRIDAY: Psalm 98:1-6
SATURDAY: John 1:1-3, John 1:14, and Romans 6:23

* CHRISTMAS DAY:
Psalm 100
Revelation 3:20-21



Lighting and Relighting Our Inner Candles

We light and relight a candle on each of the four Sunday’s of Advent. The rest of the week we prepare ourselves by reading scripture from the Advent Calendar. Remember that the Advent Calendar is not another “To Do List.” The Advent Calendar is an opportunity for us to light and relight the inner candles in our hearts’. Every night we need to light and relight the candles in our heart of love, hope, faith, forgiveness, and thanksgiving.

One night I was preparing to read the Advent Calendar lesson: I opened my Bible to Luke 2:1-5, read the lesson in about 7 seconds, closed the Bible and realized that that couldn’t be all there was to it!

The way we need to look at the Advent Calendar lesson is to follow Mary’s example: to treasure these scriptures and to study them; to ponder them in your heart.

Mary treasured up these things
and pondered them in her heart.

Luke 2:19


Advent

Advent season marks the beginning of the Christian year. (Happy New Year!) Advent begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas (Which is the Sunday the closest to November 30th) and ends on Christmas Eve. (If Christmas Eve falls on a Sunday, it is counted as the fourth Sunday of Advent, with Christmas Eve beginning at Sundown.)

Advent is a period of reflection, penitence, and joy when Christians prepare for both the birth of the Baby Jesus, The First Advent) the Son of God. in Bethlehem and for the second coming of Jesus (Second Advent) as the risen Christ to rule triumphantly over life in heaven and on earth.

Advent is a time of expectation, of anticipation, and a time of hope; not of counting, “How many shopping days there are until Christmas.” Advent is a time of Prayer and Devotion.

Advent is a season of four weeks including four Sundays. Advent comes from the Latin word adventus, which means “coming” or “arrival.”

*Each Sunday of Advent has its own distinctive theme: 1st Sunday – Jesus Christ coming in final victory. 2nd & 3rd Sundays - John the Baptist. 4th Sunday - The events preceding the birth of Jesus. *Book of Worship for Advent UMC

Other denominations and traditions may have other sequences:
Bethlehem – Shepherds - Angels
Peace – Love – Joy
John the Baptist – the Magi – Mary
Annunciation – Proclamation– Fulfillment

The liturgical color of Advent is purple, the color of royalty, symbolizing the coming of the King and his Kingdom. Purple is also the color of suffering used during Lent and Holy Week.



Advent Wreath

Many churches observe a “Hanging of the Greens” at the beginning of Advent when the church is decorated and the Advent Wreath is put in place. The evergreens represent “forever life” and “Hope.” Hope of eternal and everlasting life brought through Jesus Christ.

Advent is a Christian festival that can be celebrated at home as well as in church. An Advent wreath is a great opportunity to involve children for the Christmas holiday season, for parents to teach their children about the story of Jesus Christ, and for families to pray together.

The circle of the wreath reminds us of God, eternity, the Alpha-Omega Father, which has no beginning or end and His never ending, unconditional, and everlasting love.

The Christ Candle symbolizes the light of God, through Baby Jesus coming into the world. Jesus is the light of the world that brings light to the darkness.

“I am the light of the world.
Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness,
but will have the light of life.”
John 8:12

We are also called to be a light to the world, to reflect God’s love and grace to others.

For you were once darkness,
but now you are light in the Lord.
Live as children of light.

Ephesians 5:5

Let your light so shine before men,
that they may see your good works,
and glorify your Father, which is in heaven.

Matthew 5:15



Although we are commanded to let our light shine, deeds of righteousness must not be done for self-glorification. - Wycliffe Bible Commentary



* The four outer candles represent the period of waiting during the four weeks of Advent, which themselves symbolize four centuries of waiting between the prophet Malachi and the birth of Christ.

The colors of the candles may vary with different traditions. But usually there are three purple candles, the color of royalty, symbolizing the coming of Christ the King of Kings. Some churches use blue candles as a color of royalty to distinguish Advent from Lent. The first Sunday of Advent candle is the candle of Hope or Expectation symbolizing the greatest expectation of all time, the anticipation of Jesus Christ coming in final victory. On the third Sunday of Advent the pink or rose “Joy” candle is lighted.

The light of the candles becomes an important symbol of the season; short days of sunlight during winter progressing to longer days of sunlight coming in the spring. The light reminds us that Jesus is the Light of the World. We are also called to be a light to the world, to reflect God’s love and grace to others. The progression of the lighting of the candles over four weeks represents our anxiousness as we prepare ourselves for the Birth of Jesus Christ and for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

Somehow at Christmas we have been snow blinded by some Christmas traditions that we are only celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. When we do this we are forgetting that Christ is with us today, and we loose the promise of the hope and faith of the Second Coming of Christ! Think about it? The Second coming of Christ is one of the most paramount happenings of our faith; Christ coming in Victory!

The flame of each new candle reminds us
that Christ has come,
that Christ is with us today,
(in the form of His Church and the Holy Spirit)
and that Christ will come again.

Finally, the light that has come into the world is plain to see as the central white Christ Candle is lighted on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day and we rejoice Jesus coming into the world, a promise long ago foretold has been realized.



Meaning of the Advent Wreath

Advent candle (altered) images created by llizard
aka ejm www.llizard.etherwork.net

Since many churches do not have services on those days, many congregations light the Christ Candle on the Sunday before Christmas with all five candles continues to be lighted for services through Epiphany on January 6th.

(If Christmas Eve falls on a Sunday, it is counted as the fourth Sunday of Advent, with Christmas Eve beginning at Sundown.)

*In most traditions the first week of Advent is the Candle of Hope. In most traditions the third week of Advent is the Candle of Joy. But apparently there are many different traditions on the second week of Advent, and lesser differences on the fourth week of Advent.

In ancient times the cedar was revered as the tree of royalty. It also signified immortality and was used for purification. We place the cedar branch as a sign of Christ, who reigns as King forever, and who’s coming, in justice and righteousness, will purify our hearts. During this Advent, wherever you see a lighted Christmas tree, let it call to mind the One who brings light to our darkness, healing our brokenness, and peace to all who receive him.
NUMC



Why is the Christmas tree bare?

We will not decorate the Christmas tree until the 4th Sunday of Advent, the Sunday on which we liturgically move from the Advent season to the Christmas celebration. This bare tree stands there to remind us of the barrenness of a world without Christ. The purple cloth in the cancel (purple the liturgical color of Advent) reminds us that no matter what the malls and radio stations proclaim, Christmas has not come yet! During Advent, we prayerfully wait.
Excerpt from Woodhaven Presbyterian Church, Irving, TX.

Blowing of the Midwinter Horn in pagan times was thought to rid the earth of evil spirits. Today the horn, blown by angel’s heralds and announces the coming of Christ.



Advent Wreath Origins

The origins of the Advent Wreath are ancient. The Scandinavian people of Northern Europe at winter solstice when the nights were long and the days were short they would pray for the return of the sun for its’ warmth, light, and they prayed for the coming of Spring. They would light candles and place them in a wreath made of evergreens, which represented the rotating wheel of the earth and the change of the seasons.

When Christianity came this pagan practice converted into a Christian tradition symbolizing that we were once in darkness and that Jesus is the light of the world.

For you were once darkness,
but now you are light in the Lord.
Live as children of light.

Ephesians 5:5

“I am the light of the world.
Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness,
but will have the light of life.”

John 8:12





Some people are troubled by meaningless “Pagan” origins. But, God can give meaning to things that were at one time meaningless, ugly, and pagan! God made dust of the earth into something more meaningful (Genesis 2:7). Jesus Christ can change everything! At one time the Roman cross was an ugly symbol of hate and death. Now, through Jesus Christ, the cross is a beautiful symbol of unconditional love and everlasting love; quite a contrast. Jesus Christ is the one who gives meaning to the Advent Wreath; not the paganisms. The Advent Wreath has long been a Lutheran tradition, but it is becoming more and more popular in many other denominations.

Before I came to Christ, I was a modern day pagan! Only through Jesus Christ has my life been given meaning. Through Jesus Christ we are Reborn into something new; pagan wreaths can be reborn too!



Meaning of the Advent Rose Candle

What the Advent Wreath Means
By Ken Collins

Copyright © 1995-2008 by Rev. Kenneth W. Collins
Reprinted with permission.

Historically, the candles have no more meaning than a countdown. That is, they originally stood for 4, 3, 2, and 1. However, people like for things in the church to have symbolic meanings, so the candles have gradually acquired meanings. In some locations, the third candle is pink, in others the fourth candle is pink; in still others, all four candles are purple.

The purple candles are lit during Advent, when the liturgical color is purple, and the white candle is lit on Christmas Eve (that is, after sundown), when the liturgical color is white. So that explains the colors of the purple and white candles they just match the liturgical decor.

But what about the pink candle, if there is one? The pink candle is becoming more and more popular, but it has a strange origin. Long ago, the pope had the custom of giving someone a rose on the fourth Sunday in Lent. This led the Roman Catholic clergy to wear rose-colored vestments on that Sunday. The effect was to give some relief to the solemnity of Lent, so this was a very popular custom. Advent was a solemn fast in preparation for Christmas, so the custom was extended to the third Sunday in Advent to liven it up a little bit, too. Somewhere in there the third candle of the Advent wreath turned pink.

Meanwhile, Advent is no longer solemn and the pope no longer has the custom of giving out roses. It is kind of odd to think that a Methodist would put a pink candle in a Lutheran Advent wreath because the pope used to have the custom of giving out roses, but sometimes we're a little more ecumenical than we realize!

www.KenCollins.com


Next: Advent the Birth of Jesus

Meaning of the Advent Wreath



Social Justice & Injustice
Political Commentary
Lessons learned from Mister Magoo’s “A Christmas Carol;”
the Christmas classic written by Charles Dickens.


Charles Dicken’s “A Christmas Carol” is a sad commentary of the injustices, which still continue to this day; Oppression of the poor, the hungry, and the sick, the homeless, children, the elderly, the unemployed and underemployed, intolerance, prejudice, and discrimination!



"Its an Unwonderful Life" is a parody of the 1946 Christmas classic, Frank Capras's "It's a Wonderful Life" with James Stewart and Donna Reed. Join our Bailey as he struggles with problems and contemplates suicide. Bailey meets his guardian angel and they travel back into the past and travel into the future of "what could happen." The twist this time is their startling conclusion that the world would be better off without Bailey! What a predicament; will Bailey jump or not jump from the bridge into the icy waters below? Join Bailey on his Christmas Eve roller coaster of a ride of Faith or Fear. Christian-fiction written by Osten Aune. Though “It’s an Unwonderful Life” is Christian-Fiction, this story is not a story written for young children. If this were a movie I would give it a PG-13 rating.



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