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.
Before you move on, take a moment to discuss or journal about how you want this time to be set apart. What do you want to be different as you spend the next few minutes reflecting?
Repentance isn’t a word we like very much. Often it carries with it feelings of guilt and shame. However, true repentance, or turning away from our disobedience toward God, is part of the way we prepare for Advent. Repentance helps us focus on doing right instead of being right. It also reminds us that life isn’t about us; it’s about God’s love for and desire to rescue everyone.
- As a group or on your own, reflect on why it is so difficult to repent? What does repentance require you to admit?
- How is repentance an important part of the Advent season?
- When you repent, how does that help you align yourself with God’s perspective?
Read Matthew 3:1-12
- As you look at this whole passage, what is John’s message about repentance?
- What phrase sticks out most to you? Why?
- On your own, reflect on what this passage means for you in this season of Advent.
As we wait during this Advent season, it is important to remember what we are waiting for. As you read these next verses, think about who Jesus is and what his Kingdom will be like
Read Isaiah 11:1-10
- As you read verse two, what images or ideas come to mind?
- As you read verses three through five, which phrase sticks out most to you and why?
- How would you explain verses six through ten in your own words?
As you close your time, take time to pray together or on your own, and close with this prayer.
Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
For Families with Children
Love is an incredibly powerful thing. In fact, God loved us so much that he sent Jesus to rescue us so that he could be our forever friend. At Christmas, we remember that Jesus came to be our rescuer.
- As parents, share with your children why a relationship with Jesus is so important.
- Ask them to explain in their own words why the love that God showed us through Jesus is so important.
- Ask your children to come up with some ways they could show the love of Jesus to others this week.
As a family, create a list of ways you could show the love of Jesus to those around you this week. Pick one person in particular and have your kids help you figure out what you might do together to show Jesus’s love to that person.
We would love to pray with you! If you have a prayer need, share it with us here.