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.
During the Christmas season, joy is all around us. Christmas cards and Christmas songs declare that there is much to be joyous about. However, often we believe that joy and happiness are the same thing. There are certainly moments of happiness in joy, but joy has more to do with choosing to trust God in our circumstances. As we wait for the return of Christ, we know that some days will be full of happiness and other days full of sorrow. However, through each day we have the opportunity to choose joy.
- As a group, or on your own, reflect on why joy is so important.
- How do we look different from those around us when we choose joy?
When we remember that the source of our joy is that we belong to Jesus, we can have confidence that when we face trouble; he will work all things out.
Read Luke 1:46-55
- Discuss as a group or reflect on your own on what Mary was facing as she spoke these words. How did Mary find joy in difficult circumstances?
- As you read Mary’s song, what phrase jumps out most to you? How does it connect with you during this Advent season?
- How does Mary’s song encourage you to choose joy today?
The people around Jesus faced many difficult circumstances, and yet they truly understood joy. In the passage we studied this weekend, Jesus praised John the Baptist for what he had done, and yet we know that John ended up in prison and faced an untimely end to his life. Let’s re-read this passage together:
Read Matthew 11:2-11
- When John’s disciples asked Jesus if he was the Messiah, why do you think Jesus answered the way he did?
- As you read this passage, what stands out to you most? What is your greatest take away from this passage? If you were going to put Jesus’ words in your own words, what would you say?
- Throughout John’s ministry and his imprisonment, how do you think he chose joy?
As you close your time, take time to pray together or on your own and close with this prayer:
Father, help us to seek the values that will bring us lasting joy in this changing world. In our desire for what you promise make us one in mind and heart. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. AMEN
For Families with Children
During the Christmas season, we remember that Jesus came, and we know that because Jesus came, we are able to have joy. Joy is greater than happiness because it never leaves us. No matter what happens, we have joy in Jesus.
- What makes you most happy?
- What is the difference between happiness and joy?
- What does it mean to have joy even when we aren’t happy?
As a family, come up with a list of ways you can show the joy of Jesus to people around you this Christmas season. Have each person in your family choose one way they can do that this week. Once you’ve each done this, come back and talk about what you experienced.
We would love to pray with you! If you have a prayer need, share it with us here.