Advent Season: Celebration of Light and Hope [Printable]
As December starts and Christmas Eve draws ever closer, I find myself increasingly overwhelmed by the relentless marketing of the “Holiday Season”. It seems as if every store I walk into is trying to convince me that the true meaning of Christmas can be found by buying more, more, more. In past years my friends have gone so far as to call me a “Christmas Grinch”.
This year I am taking refuge from commercial Christmas in these four simple traditions that remind me that the purpose of Advent season is preparing for the coming of Jesus - the Light of the World:
Reading Isaiah -The Promise
The Prophet Isaiah, who lived around 700 BC, prophesied about the coming of the Messiah. Generations prepared and prayed for the coming of the Messiah. God’s promise to His people was fulfilled in the birth of Jesus. And so my preparation during Advent includes reading these Bible verses:
"Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." (Isaiah 7:14)
"The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined." (Isaiah 9:2)
"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." (Isaiah 9:6)
Candle Light - Hope in the Darkness
We celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ in the middle of winter, when darkness comes early. For thousands of years, God’s people lived in darkness, waiting. John calls Jesus “the light of men” and “the light in the darkness”. The Christmas wreath I grew up with sat on our dining room table during December and had four candles: one for each Sunday in December. Each week we lit one more candle to symbolize the approaching birth of the Savior. When I decorate my house for Christmas, I use as many candles as I safely can to remind myself of the hope that we have been given in the midst of a dark world.
Evergreen - Hope for Tomorrow
There are many explanations for why we have Christmas trees. One very practical reason is simply that evergreen trees are green through the winter, when everything else is dead or asleep. Bringing living boughs into the house is a reminder that winter does not last forever, spring will come, and with it renewal and life. The coming of the Christ has given each of us a chance for renewal and life as well.
Hymns - Joy and Celebration
At Christ’s birth, the angels celebrated by singing. My favorite Christmas Eve services have always been candle-lit services where the congregation joins together to sing Christmas hymns. For me, singing traditional hymns means joining centuries of Christians who worshipped God with those words.
Every family has its own Christmas traditions. I don’t suggest that everyone should adopt my traditions. I simply want to encourage you to be intentional with your actions as you prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.
If you would like to join me in reading verses in preparation for the birth of Christ, you can find printable cutout verses for your family below. Print, decorate, cut them out and put them in a hat or bowl. Draw one every day and read the corresponding verse until Christmas day.