As you gather this week, take a moment to light your advent candle. If you don’t have an advent candle, any candle will do. There is nothing mystical about the candle. Lighting a candle is simply a way of setting apart time for something unique. Let this time be a different kind of time than the rest of your day. Gather with family, or friends, or somewhere quiet on your own and light your candle.
Historically, candles have been lit to represent the presence of God. As you light your candle, take time to acknowledge that God is present. Consider praying a prayer like this:
O God, as light comes from this candle,
May the blessing of Jesus Christ come to us,
Warming our hearts and brightening our way.
May Christ our Savior
Bring life into the darkness of this world,
And to us, as we wait for his coming.
As we remember our Savior coming as a baby and look forward to his return, we can’t help but be overwhelmed by the incredible love God has shown us in the gift of Jesus. It is often difficult for us to understand God’s love for us because God loves us perfectly, and we are not capable of perfect love. We love a lot of things, and some more than others, but we also know that God’s love for us is bigger and greater than our ability to love. As you go throughout this week, celebrating with family and friends, take time to remember that the greatest gift we’ve received is the gift of love that God has shown us through Jesus.
- When you think of the word love, what ideas come to mind?
- What is the difference between God’s perfect love and the way we love?
- How can our love be more like God’s?
Read Matthew 1:18-25
- As you read this passage, what do you think it must have felt like to be Mary and Joseph?
- Emanuel means “God is with us.” How would you explain that in your own words?
- How does this passage demonstrate God’s love?
In the passage above, the angel tells Joseph that Jesus would rescue people from their sins. The Apostle Paul, who wrote much of the New Testament, summarizes how Jesus did that in the first Chapter of Romans.
Read Romans 1:1-7
- The story of what Jesus had done was so central to Paul’s message, that he includes it in his greeting to the people of Rome. As you read this passage, what word or phrase stuck out to you and why?
- During this season as we remember that Jesus came and what he’s done for us, we also remember that he is coming again. What does that mean for you today?
- Paul finishes his introduction by proclaiming grace and peace from God the Father and Jesus the Son to his audience. The grace and peace of Christ are deeply needed in our world. How could you show grace and peace this week?
As you close your time, take time to pray together or on your own and close with this prayer:
Eternal God, in whose perfect kingdom no sword is drawn but the sword of righteousness, no strength known but the strength of love: So mightily spread abroad your Spirit, that all peoples may be gathered under the banner of the Prince of Peace, as children of one God; to whom be dominion and glory, now and for ever. Amen.
For Families with Children
What do you think of when you hear the word “peace?” Being quiet. Calmness. Freedom. Maybe you feel peace when you’re getting along with others, when you’re going to sleep, or when you’re safe. These all describe feeling peace around us. God sent Jesus, the Savior of the world, for us to have true peace inside us. Another name for Jesus is Prince of Peace. We can have true peace when we trust Jesus to take care of us. Jesus loves us. He wants us to have true peace.
- What do you think of when you hear the word “peace?”
- How can we remember that Jesus is the one who gives us true peace?
- What are ways we can show other people the peace we have in Jesus?
Create a peaceful environment for your family such as sitting together looking at stars outside, turning off electronics, or being in a quiet room. Explain why you feel peace around you. Ask each family member to draw a picture when he or she feels true peace. Then, draw an example when he or she doesn’t have true peace. Discuss ways we can remember that God is our source of peace. Remind your family that Jesus gives true peace inside us.
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