As early as the 4th and 5th centuries, Christians in Gaul and Spain celebrated a season of spiritual preparation and prayer known as Advent. The word Advent means “the coming.” It is from the Latin “adventus,” meaning “anticipation.” In the very beginning Advent was not a preparation or anticipation of the birth of Jesus. It was actually more of a preparation for the season of Epiphany, which takes place in January. THAT season was a time of renewal and an opportunity to welcome new members into the church, all culminating in a glorious day of baptisms. (Spoiler alert: stay tuned for an Epiphany celebration of our own at JCBC, coming in January and early February.)
It was not until the 6th century that Christians began to link this kind of preparation to Christmas. At first it was a season of spiritual cleansing and readiness for the second coming of our Lord, but in time took on a dual meaning and purpose. We not only anticipate the return of our Lord, but we also enact the anticipation of the birth of Christ, as the power of God’s redemptive love is continually being born within us.
As we begin the season of Advent at JCBC, I want to share three tools with you that will help equip you in your own spiritual journey to Bethlehem, and the birth God’s love anew.
The JCBC Ministry Staff Advent Blog
Beginning December 1st, your ministry staff will be writing daily blogs throughout the entire season of advent. They will be formatted devotionally, with scripture, reflections and prayer. They will also follow the four traditional themes of the Advent season. Week one, each ministry staff member will contribute a blog on the corresponding subject of that week. In order, they are: Hope, Peace, Love, and Joy. A link to each of these daily blog posts will be sent to your email inbox, for you to read and reflect at your convenience.
Following the Star, Online Devotional
In addition to our staff blog, let me recommend another quality resource. It is an online, interactive devotional, created by the leaders of Passport Camps. This devotional includes music, scripture, reflections, creative prayer, and tips for putting faith into action. Each day is a new devotion, written by a different contributor. You can visit Following the Star here…
Family Advent Wreath
One practical tool for family devotion is the lighting of your own advent wreath. There are many resources available for creating a wreath. One helpful link is provided here…
The charm of this activity is found in its simplicity. For the first week of Advent, just before dinner, light the Hope candle. Say a prayer and begin eating. But during dinner, talk about hope. It’s that simple. Do the same for the other three weeks and themes of advent. You may be surprised what this simple ritual can do to keep the family centered and focused.
Johns Creek Baptist Church