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Post  Admin on Wed 05 Dec 2018, 7:19 pm

ADVENT  4candl10

7 Questions That Will Make You Ready for Advent
Jeanne Doyon
Crosswalk.com Contributor
 7 Questions That Will Make You Ready for Advent
As the autumn leaves dance and twirl, I'm reminded that it won't be long before we celebrate the holidays. To avoid the last minute hustle it is good to think ahead.

Many shop early and get their Christmas cards ordered and signed. Others bake Christmas cookies for weeks to prepare for guests and gifts. Whatever we do to prepare for the holiday, when we are intentional it can reduce stress.

Preparing our heart and keeping our focus on Jesus takes planning too - otherwise the weeks fly by in a blur before we rein in what's important. Using an advent devotional or activity is a wonderful way to engage the whole family with the central message of why Jesus came.

Having a plan for your family celebrations minimizes stress and helps you to focus on the things that are important to you. Begin by adding the events and traditions most important to you and your family.

Asking yourself these questions during this season of your life will help you to focus as you celebrate from the heart. Questions like

1. What traditions do I value most during this time of year?

This may be a family party or a cookie swap at your church. You may enjoy the live nativity or reading Scripture on Christmas Eve. Be sure to put these on your calendar first to help when responding to other invitations and opportunities. One of our favorite activities revolves around the reminder of what Christmas is all about. So, we watch Charlie Brown’s Christmas on Christmas Eve as a family. Christmas Eve is really big in our home. We have special foods, play Christmas music, eat while we watch Christmas movies, and end with Charlie Brown before bedtime.

2. What other events will I include in my celebrations?

This includes church events, concerts, school programs, community events, parties and gift exchanges. Do you decorate the tree as a family? Plan a special Christmas breakfast? Visit shut-ins or go caroling? When we are purposeful in deciding on what is included on our calendar, we will have more insight into what we can and cannot do.

3. What things can I let go of because of busyness or a change in my life situation?
Maybe in the past you’ve spent days baking dozens of kinds of cookies for cookie trays but due to finances, change in family dynamics, a new living situation, or illness you can’t do this the same way. Every season of life is different and we need to give ourselves permission to adapt to the changes. Giving ourselves grace will help to overcome guilt and fear of disappointing others. Each new season brings new ways to celebrate. Instead of wrapping gifts, use gift bags or reusable shopping bags for each family.

4. How much decorating will I do this year?

When my children were all at home, they helped with the decorating. Since my husband and I have an empty nest, I have simplified. I love a wreath on the door and candles in the windows. I decorate my hearth and have a tabletop Christmas tree. Pine cones and glass Christmas balls in a bowl on the table is simply beautiful. I find it is easier to set up and quick to take down after the holiday. Simple can also be festive.

5. How much will I spend on gifts for each one on my gift list?
Slide 5 of 8
Being realistic about our resources alleviates stress. Planning ahead may give you time to save for gifts or decide that you may try giving more handmade items. Create your gift list early and jot down ideas for each person. Be intentional, shop early, and don’t overspend. Order online and have gifts shipped directly to family living out of state. This article on low cost gift giving may help.

6. Am I able to do all the cooking for dinner guests or do I need to ask others to contribute items to the feast?

Do you host Christmas dinner for family and friends? Ease the burden and create community by asking family dinner guests to bring an appetizer, vegetables, dinner rolls, beverages or a dessert to help with your dinner preparations. Simply provide time for everyone to pop their dish into the oven for warming. Most of the cooking can be done ahead of time, allowing you to spend Christmas morning enjoying your family time.

7. How will my family prepare for the Advent season?

The Advent Season reminds us of His Coming - both as the Messiah, born as a baby - and as the Coming King of Glory. We anticipate the second Coming of Jesus in the same way the Jewish people watched for their Messiah. This first and second Advent have something in common—they mean, Someone is Coming!

When my children were very young we had an Avon Advent calendar so our children could count the days to Christmas Eve. We also read the Christmas story together from a children's Bible and other story books.

If you have children, Focus on the Family has a free Advent resource for you to use this Christmas. It is filled with downloadable activities and lots to learn about the meaning of Advent.

Download a free copy of "A Baby Changed Everything". Journey through the first Christmas in Luke and Matthew’s gospels. Meet the characters in their daily events in this 7-day Advent e-book with daily discussions. This is perfect for families, small groups, or individuals.

Others have used the Jesse Tree with symbols of the Christmas story. These symbols are depicted on tree ornaments along with short devotionals to read each day.

Whatever you do to focus on the deeper meaning of Christmas, it will take some planning.

Here are some other ideas for your family (And, I'd love to hear yours)
What Are Advent Readings & Why Are They Important?
Asheritah Ciuciu
What Are Advent Readings & Why Are They Important?
It’s the most wonderful time of year, isn’t it? And while some scoff at carols being sung on the radio before December 1, Christians throughout history have embraced this season of spiritual preparation using Advent readings—short Bible passages read during the lighting of the Advent wreath.

This sacred time invites us to slow down from all the holiday preparations and parties, take a deep breath, and remember the reason for the season: the eternal Jesus Christ taking on human flesh.

But how do all the different parts of Advent work together, and how can you incorporate Advent into your church or family life? That’s what this article will help you figure out, specifically guiding you through the practice of Advent readings. 

What Are the Four Sundays of Advent?
If you’ve ever struggled to keep the four Sundays of Advent straight, you’re not alone. For hundreds of years, faithful Christians have observed the four weeks leading up to Christmas Day as a special time to prepare their hearts, but these practices have changed over time and place.

The first mention of Advent is found in ancient writings dating back to the sixth century, with some anecdotal mentions as early as AD 380 at the Spanish Council of Saragossa! So not only is it an old Christian practice, but it’s also a very personal one, as churches have adapted the practice to suit their local parishes.

So while there’s no authoritative guide to Advent, we can find some commonalities in the ways churches have practiced the observance of Advent throughout history.

Generally, the themes that correspond to each week fall into these categories:

Week 1: Hope (or promise)
Week 2: Preparation (or waiting or prophecy)
Week 3: Joy (or peace)
Week 4: Love (or adoration)
While the differences in weekly Advent themes may be confusing, we can unite in our desire to quiet our hearts during a hectic holiday season and worship Jesus. And the good news is that you can definitely mix and match these weekly themes with various Advent readings that will best serve your congregation or your family. There is no right or wrong way to observe Advent as long as you’re coming to God with a sincere and open heart.


Advent Wreath Candle Lighting Readings 
Twinkling lights and candles everywhere remind us that Jesus is the light of the world that came to dispel the darkness.

That theme of light is what originally gave birth to the Advent wreath hundreds of years ago in Lutheran Germany, and it’s become a beloved tradition in many churches and homes.

The Advent Wreath is typically an evergreen wreath containing five candles, each lit on successive Sundays during the Advent readings. Some variations of the Advent wreath include different colors to correspond to different themes, while others keep the candles a simple white.

As it’s practiced in church services, the Advent wreath is usually lit at the beginning of the weekly service with its accompanying Advent reading from the Bible. However, many families choose to create an Advent wreath and set it on the dinner table or mantel, lighting the candles and using that family time to remind themselves and their children that the Christmas season is first and foremost about Jesus. Other families set the Advent wreath on their mantel. Again, the beauty of this tradition is that you can make it your own, as it suits you and your family.

As you’ve probably realized by now, the Advent readings themselves also vary among church denominations and traditions, depending on their weekly themes.

Some churches, especially in Catholic traditions, read exclusively from the book of Isaiah, while other churches choose passages that correspond to the weekly theme, from either the Old Testament, New Testament, or the Psalms.

Below you’ll find a sampling of Advent readings that correspond to each weekly theme.

First Sunday of Advent Readings: Hope
Isaiah 9:2, 6–7:
“The people walking in darkness
    have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
    a light has dawned. […]
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.
Of the greatness 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.” (NIV)

Alternate readings: Psalm 122; Isaiah 2:2-5; Romans 13:11-14
Suggested hymns: Come Thou Long Expected Jesus, Silent Night

Meredith Andrews - Come Thou Long Expected Jesus (Official Lyric Video)
WATCH https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NOxJFN-9_vs&ab_channel=meredithandrewsmusic

Second Sunday of Advent Readings: Preparation
Isaiah 40:3-5:
“A voice of one calling:
‘In the wilderness prepare
    the way for the Lord;
make straight in the desert
    a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be raised up,
    every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level,
    the rugged places a plain.
And the glory of the Lord will be revealed,
    and all people will see it together.
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.’” (NIV)

Alternate readings: Psalm 72:18; Isaiah 11:1-10; Luke 1:26-38
Suggested hymns: O Come, O Come Emanuel

Third Sunday of Advent Readings: Joy
Matthew 2:10-11
“When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.” (NIV)

Alternate readings: Psalm 146:5-10; Isaiah 35:1-10; Luke 2:8-14
Suggested hymns: Joy to the World, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

Joy To The World Lyric Video - Hillsong Worship
 WATCH ....https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HDAUPz2RohU&ab_channel=HillsongWorship

Fourth Sunday of Advent Readings: Love
John 3:16-19
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.” (NIV)

Alternate readings: Psalm 24:1-10; Isaiah 7:10-14; Luke 2:8-20; John 1:14; John 3:16; 1 John 4:10
Suggested hymns: Away in a Manger, O Little Town of Bethlehem

Fifth Sunday (Christmas Eve): Adoration
John 1:14
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” (NIV)

Alternate readings: Psalm 96; Isaiah 9:2-7; Luke 2:1-40; Titus 2:11-14
Suggested hymns: O Come, All Ye Faithful; Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

O Come All Ye Faithful Lyric Video - Hillsong Worship
WATCH https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=5&v=xzG4OOCoG2Y


Unwrapping the Names of Jesus by Asheritah CiuCiu | Book Trailer
WATCH https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=7&v=e2wM4lrDLmQ&ab_channel=MoodyPublishers

May your Christmas season be blessed with a growing love for Jesus, in your life, your family, and your church community this year!

ASHERITAH CIUCIU is an author, speaker, and blogger. She grew up in Romania as a missionary kid and studied English and Women's Ministry at Cedarville University in Ohio. Her passion is helping women find joy in Jesus through a deeper walk with God, and she shares personal stories and practical tips on www.OneThingAlone.com. She's also a regular contributor to FortheFamily.org and Ungrind.com.

Additional Advent Resources:
4 Prayers to Pray as a Family During Advent
25 Scripture Verses to Pray During Advent
12 Advent Prayers
How to Do Advent Devotions with Your Family

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