Thursday, December 03, 2009


Last night at the college group, we celebrated advent. We had a wreath with four candles inside. Here are some things we talked about:

* Advent comes from the Latin word "adventus" which means "coming". The expectation and preparation is growing as it gets closer to December 25th. The celebration of Christ's birth is coming!

* Some people celebrate advent with a wreath and candles. Starting the fourth Sunday before Christmas, one candle was lit. The following Sunday, two candles were lit. The next Sunday, three candles and so on. The candles represent the growing anticipation of the birth of Jesus, the "light of the world".

* The wreath's circle shape symbolizes the eternity and unity of God and the evergreens and lighted candles signify the persistence of life in the midst of winter.

We had a student leader get up and share about each candle (I copied and pasted below what they said). Then they would light it and we'd have a few minutes of quiet reflection time.


Isaiah 7:14 “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 was a prophet in 8th century BC. He prophesied that 700 years in the future, God would come to this world in human form. He will be called Immanuel, which means “God with us”. This candle represents HOPE. At a time when things seemed helpless or hopeless, a savior was coming. Do you believe in this hope?


Luke 2:1-5 “In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.”

Chaos. Absolute chaos. Caesar had ordered everyone to go back to their hometowns and register there so they could figure out how many people lived in the Roman world for taxation purposes. Mary had to leave her hometown of Nazareth to go with her husband Joseph to his hometown – Bethlehem. Mary left her family, her friends, her support system and she was about to give birth. That must have been scary for her. Bethlehem was crowded and chaotic, with everyone coming back to their hometown. And yet, this second candle represents PEACE. Peace in the midst of chaos. In the middle of a city, country, WORLD that is chaotic, Jesus brings peace.


Luke 2:6-7 “While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”

We know Bethlehem was crowded – there were no rooms available at any inns. So Mary and Joseph had to take the only place available to them. Maybe it was a stable or maybe it was a cave. But it was probably cold and dark and unfamiliar. And Jesus was born. Mary wrapped him in cloths and put him in a trough used to hold food for animals. God humbled himself and came to this earth for us. This third candle represents LOVE. This is the ultimate show of God’s love for his children. He sent His one and only son who would grow up and one day die for all of our sins.


Luke 2: 8-20 “And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.’

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.”

A bunch of shepherds were nearby, protecting their sheep at night from wild animals or thieves. And BAM! Suddenly an angel appears with God’s glory surrounding them and they understandably freak out. But the angel tells them about great joy – a Savior has been born! Christ the Lord! A bunch of other angels join the first one and they all begin praising God. The shepherds go off and find Jesus and then they start praising God too! The fourth candle represents JOY. Both the shepherds and the angels express JOY at the birth of their savior. What is your response when you think of Jesus’ birth, which is what we celebrate at Christmas? Does it bring you JOY?

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