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Celebrating Advent

We do not follow the liturgical calendar of the church, but I always hold Advent dear to my heart. Growing up in a traditional Church of Scotland the annual singing of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” heralded the beginning of Christmas. The haunting, sorrow; it’s shear beauty, touched me deeply. I could not understand why it seemed so full of sadness, when it was to usher in the start of Christmas?

O Come O Come Emmanuel
O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny
From depths of Hell Thy people save
And give them victory o’er the grave
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, O come, Thou Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes, on Sinai’s height,
In ancient times did’st give the Law,
In cloud, and majesty and awe.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

The carol is the very longing of our souls for the coming Saviour. Advent means “Coming”, we are celebrating the Coming of Jesus, both then, and the awaiting of His Coming.The knowledge of the sorry state of humanity without Jesus. During the Sundays of Advent we light the Advent Candles. These symbolise: Hope, Love, Joy, Peace.

I believe there is a sense many “Comings” of Jesus. As we go through the Seasons of our faith there are times when the reality of different aspects of Jesus character are more “real” than others. We go through seasons of knowing the Joy of the Lord powerfully, then we go through other seasons where His Holiness has us awe-struck. But there are seasons when the Lord feels distant, where we can feel lost and alone. At such times we need an Advent in our lives. We need the Hope, Love, Joy and Peace of Jesus to flood our beings and bring renewal, healing and newness of life.

Advent is a time to reorient our lives- cleaving, seeking Hope, Love, Joy and Peace: only with Jesus can these truly be found. And how desperately do we and the world need them.

Ways to Celebrate Advent

  1. Make an Advent Wreath. Our one is simply four white candles, with labeled “Hope”, “love”, “Joy” and “Peace”. Each Sunday during family devotions light a candle, explaining the meaning of each.
  2. Make a Jesse Tree. This year we will be reading Ann Voksamp’s book Unwrapping the Greatest Gift. This family devotional leads you through the Old Testament to the birth of Jesus, and in doing so creating a Jesse Tree.

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