Sunday, November 29, 2009

First Sunday of Advent

Today marks the First Sunday in Advent -- a season I look forward to even more than Christmas for three reasons:

This may be our last year to do Advent as a family since Elizabeth will be graduating from high school this June. If she lives on campus, she will miss a good part of Advent, at least half. Traditionally Elizabeth, as the eldest, starts the Advent season, lighting the First Candle on the First Sunday. She needed a little help from Timothy, but she managed it.

This morning two families, one in first service and one in second service, lit the first Advent candle, the Prophecy candle, reading aloud this prophecy from the book of Isaiah:

2 The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
on them has light shined.
3 You have multiplied the nation;
you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you
as with joy at the harvest,
as they are glad when they divide the spoil.
4 For the yoke of his burden,
and the staff for his shoulder,
the rod of his oppressor,
you have broken as on the day of Midian.
5 For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult
and every garment rolled in blood
will be burned as fuel for the fire.
6 For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
Tonight the four kids and I gathered around our Advent wreath, and I read the Rite for the Beginning of Advent at Home:

As our nights grow longer and our days grow short,
we look on these earthly signs -- light and green branches --
and remember God's promise to our world:
Christ, our Light and our Hope, will come.
Listen to the words of Isaiah the prophet:
(see Isaiah 9:2-3 above)

Then all pray:
O God,
we remember the promise of Your Son.
As the light from this candle,
may the blessings of Christ come upon us,
brightening our way
and guiding us by His truth.
May Christ our Savior bring life
into the darkness of our world,
and to us, as we wait for His coming.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Our Daily Prayers for Lighting the Advent Wreath, First Week:
O Emmanuel, Jesus Christ,
desire of every nation,
Savior of all peoples,
come and dwell among us.

Elizabeth chose for us the carol "O Little Town of Bethlehem," and we sang the first verse. Not being a musical family, we don't sing well at all, so we elected to listen to Elizabeth read aloud the second verse. To conclude our Advent celebration, I read aloud Isaiah 40:1-5 and Elizabeth closed us in prayer.

Starting on Tuesday, the first day of December, we'll add our Advent calendar that hangs on the wall of our dining/school area. Nearly four feet tall by three feet wide, all handsewn by Keith's sister Karla for our first Advent in this house in 2001, it's a favorite part of our Advent. When the kids were little, tiny wrapped toys were stowed in the pockets, the property of whoever's "turn" it was to light the candle, choose the carol, etc. With 24 pockets plus Christmas Day, each of our four children get to have six "turns" at leading Advent. This year we have Reese's peanut butter bells in each pocket. Yum! 

Tonight was our first Advent celebration of the season, and, as always, I loved it, despite the giggles of the kids at inopportune times. But I truly do enjoy reading Scripture, praying, and singing with my kids in the light of Christ our Lord ... it's what makes Advent so precious to me.

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