Advent Readings

First Week in Advent

Long ago the prophet Isaiah spoke these words of promise about Jesus to God’s people.

A child has been born for us, a son is given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace”. (Isaiah 9:6)

Long before Jesus was born, God promised it would be so. People joyfully celebrate Christmas because God gave the world his own son, the very first Christmas gift. We make room for him in our hearts.

Our loving God, as we begin the Advent season, teach us the true meaning of Christmas. Each time we light the candle of promise, help us to think about your promise to send Jesus your Son. Amen

Tomorrow and the rest of the week we’ll talk about some other promises God made. We will light the candle each day to remind us of them.

Each Sunday we’ll light one more candle so that the week before Christmas all four candles will be lighted. As we talk about the meaning of the candle, we’ll read what God says in the Bible about that meaning. We could keep the Advent wreath here as a centerpiece to remind us of what we learn during Advent.

Second Week in Advent

Now is the second week in Advent, so we light two candles on the Advent wreath – the candle of promise and the candle of light. The candle of light reminds us of the star the wise men followed.

In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” (Matthew 2:1b-2)

God used a very special kind of light to let the wise men know it was time for the king to be born. They had watched the stars and skies for a very long time. Finally the great and unusual light they were waiting for appeared in the sky. The wise men got ready for the long journey over the desert, mounted their camels and set out.

Naturally they thought Jesus would be in Jerusalem, where the temple was, and they went there first. They met with wicked King Herod, who didn’t like the idea of a new king of the Jews. But Herod did tell them to go to Bethlehem to look for this new king.

The Bible doesn’t say where the wise men came from, how many of them there were, or where they came from – only that they visited the little family, that they brought three gifts, and that they worshipped Jesus.

Dear God in heaven, you gave us the wise men a light to show them the way. They followed that bright star to Jesus the king. Be with us and guide each one of us too. Amen.

Third Week in Advent

For God so loved the world that he gave is only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may no perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

As the candle of love is lit, let’s think about how much God loves each of us.

This week we will be singing the Christmas hymn “O Little Town of Bethlehem”. The writer of these words, Phillips Brooks, was the pastor of a church in Philadelphia and went to visit Palestine. One evening at dusk he rode on horseback past the olive trees outside Bethlehem to the fields where some thought the shepherds watched their flocks and heard the angels’ message.

He thought about the wonderful gift of love God gave to all people that night. He tried to imagine what it had been like in those fields when angels told the shepherds that out of love for us, God sent his only Son to save us.

When Phillips Brooks returned to Philadelphia, he often remembered the quiet beauty of that night when he had stood in the shepherds’ fields near Bethlehem. He thought of how God’s love for all people has continued through the centuries since that first Christmas long ago.

One Christmas season he wrote the words of a song for the children of his church to sing at the Christmas program. He asked the church organist, Lewis H. Redner, to compose the music. The organist had trouble finding a tune he liked. Finally before going to bed, he prayed about it. In the night he woke up with a tune in his mind. Quickly he wrote it down. And the children sang the song at the program.

Neither the minister who wrote the words nor the organist who composed the music expected anything great from the little song, but people liked it at once. For more than one hundred years it has been a favorite Christmas song.

Dear Lord, thank you for Christmas songs that remind us of your great love for us. Amen.

Fourth Week in Advent

The first candle reminds us of God’s promise to send a Savior. As the candle of light flames, we remember that Jesus said, “I am the light of the world.” Next we light the candle of love – God first loved us, so we love God and others. The fourth candle is called Hope. The candle of Hope reminds us that God gave us a gift of hope – life forever with him.

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. (John 14:3)

The Bible tells us that if we have opened our heart’s door to Jesus we have been adopted in the family of God. When Jesus went back to heaven, he said that he would prepare a place for us, and some day he would come for us so we could live with him. Knowing that Jesus has made a special place for us in heaven gives us hope.

Dear God in heaven, we worship the baby Jesus, born in a stable, and we rejoice that he loved us and became our Savior. Now we are hoping for what we have never seen – life forever with Jesus. Amen.