Advent means “coming.”

The coming of our Messiah.

As a baby.

As our redeemer.  

Someone who loved this messed up and broken world so much he would die for it.  But first he must be born into it.

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So we wait.  Hope.  Long.

Using the weeks during Advent as our spiritual preparation for the Messiah’s coming–both the celebration of his birth and our longing for his second coming.  The yet-to-be.

Advent means that we long for all things to be made right,

the earth to be restored,

and to be rid of pain, sorrow and death. Forever.

How We Are Celebrating Advent

One thing we are doing this year is our own family worship celebration for the four Advent Sundays (the first one is this Sunday) and Christmas.  It is a very simple 15-20 minute worship time created for our family during the Advent season.  Sunday evening works beautifully for the first one because candlelight is an important part of it.  Thanks to my husband Sam for his help in creating these family services and his recording of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.”  It’s our desire that other families might be inspired to celebrate Advent too, in whatever way helps you to long for His coming. 

If you are doing the Jesse Tree tradition, which is a daily Bible reading plan that covers Genesis to the birth of Jesus, this does not include those readings.  We are doing our Jesse tree reading at a different time (Sunday lunch); however, you could substitute the Jesse tree reading for the Old Testament reading if you want to incorporate it into this family Advent worship.

Here’s what you need for the first Advent Sunday which starts this weekend:

Advent Wreath

My Advent wreath is very simple.  Just a few simple boughs from the Christmas tree, five candles (three purple, one pink, one white) and any other additions you want to throw in (additional greenery from the landscaping or woods, poinsettia flowers, holly, silk flowers).

The first Sunday of Advent focuses on the attribute of hope, which we represented visually through candlelight in our family Advent service.  Everything below is listed in the pdf which you can download and print for your family:

Week 1 Hope

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Items Needed

Wrapped box (we call it a Blessing Box and will use it each week for the Advent items)

Advent wreath and 1 purple Advent candle

Four more candles and holders for table. (Not Advent candles)

Music

Candlelighter

Note: The candles should be placed inside the Blessing Box.  They can be wrapped (label the advent candle so you know which one it is) or just placed inside unwrapped.  As each item is needed, have one person take it out of the box, unwrap it and follow instructions below.  The Blessing Box is a way to get children involved and gives an element of surprise.  You can also go without the box.  Just set up four candles in the middle of the table and light them as instructed.

You may wish to have one person be the reader or to have several people read.  It helps to have copies of this if you are using many readers.

Visual 

Turn down the lights (but leave enough light to read) and light one candle at a time to represent our hope in Jesus, which shines bright in the dark.  

Read:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
 where there is injury, pardon;
 where there is doubt, faith;
 where there is despair, hope;
 where there is darkness, light;
 and where there is sadness, joy.   (Prayer by St. Francis of Assisi)

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Take the purple Advent candle out of the box, light it and read:

Today we celebrate the hope that is in Christ, the Messiah who came to earth as a baby.  He is our hope in times of celebration and times of sorrow.  He gives us hope that someday he will come again and make all things new.  May Psalm 25:5 be our prayer:

Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.

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Take out a second candle (not an Advent one) to put in middle of the table and light it.  Read Psalm 50: 1-3 as you light it:

The Mighty One, God, the Lord, speaks and summons the earth
from the rising of the sun to where it sets.

From Zion, perfect in beauty, God shines forth.

Our God comes
 and will not be silent; 
a fire devours before him,
 and around him a tempest rages.

Take out another candle for the table and light while reading:

Just as this candle shines forth, we remember that God shines forth.  He is the light of the world.  He makes our dark paths bright.

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Sing together:

Click here to listen:  O Come, O Come Emmanuel

O come, O come, Emmanuel,

and ransom captive Israel,

that mourns in lonely exile here

until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel,

shall come to thee o Israel!

O come, Thou Dayspring come and cheer

Our spirits by Thine advent here;

And drive away the shades of night,

And pierce the clouds and bring us light.

Rejoice!  Rejoice!

Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

Take out another candle and light while reading:

Just as there was no light at the beginning of time, we have no light without God.  God created the light and proclaimed it good.

Old Testament reading: Genesis 1:1-3  

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.

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Read Advent Prayer while lighting the fourth candle:

Unexpected God, 
your advent alarms us. 
Wake us from drowsy worship, from the sleep that neglects love, and the sedative of misdirected frenzy. 
Awaken us now to your coming, 
and bend our angers into your peace. Amen.

As your candles remind us of your hope and light, we pray that we hold this hope in our hearts and share it with others this Advent season.

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Finish with an unexpected Advent song by the Robbie Seay Band.

God of Heaven, come down.

Download our 1st Week of the Family Advent Celebration:

Week 1 Hope

Sara

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