The following is a devotional for home use based upon the lectionary readings for this coming Advent. If you don’t have an Advent wreath, making one is pretty simple. You can find directions through an internet search.
The basic wreath consists of five candles. Four are in a circle and the fifth in the center. Traditionally candles are three purple and one rose or pink (lit on the third Sunday of Advent) and a white Christ candle in the center for Christmas Eve. Some people do not adhere to the three purples and one rose. Some people use red candles. Others use all white ones. I use all blue. The Christ candle, though, should be white.
Advent begins four Sundays before Christmas. During Advent we prepare for Christmas, God’s coming into our world in Jesus. Christmas proclaims the end of a world ruled by fear to one ruled by love. It will be a world organized not by scarcity but abundance. Our Advent preparations, then, help us to anticipate the end of one world and the beginning of another. As we read in Mark 13:31 Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.”
Lighting candles on the Advent wreath each Sunday symbolizes the growing light, the end of darkness and the dawn of a new day. While we do this each Sunday in church as a community, doing this tradition at home will help our preparation on a personal level to usher in God’s reign of peace and justice rooted in love.
This devotion suggests a home practice based upon Bible study. Although the reflection question is based upon the focus scripture, the other scriptures can be read as well. Similarly, the prayer is suggested, but don’t hesitate to create your own. This devotion helps us to prepare.
Advent 1 – November 30
Ritual Action: Light one candle
Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19
1 Corinthians 1:3-9
Focus Scripture: Isaiah 64:1-9
Question for reflection: If someone told you that you would see God face to face, what would you do to prepare?
We await the dawn, O God, the promise of a new day. Burdened by suffering and oppression, our world groans. We yearn for this suffering to end. We cannot abide by this oppression any longer. Help us to face our own failings and sins which contribute to the ways our world has lost sight of Jesus’ teachings. Give us strength to use our whole selves to bring about your peace and your justice. Help us to keep awake and not falter. Amen.
Advent 2 – December 7
Ritual Action: Light last week’s candle and one more
Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13
2 Peter 3:8-15a
Focus Scripture: Isaiah 40:1-11
Question for Reflection: When you meet God face to face, what words of comfort do you need to hear?
Loving and compassionate One, we need to hear comforting words. The world is too harsh. We need a new song, one that proclaims hope and love. Unstop our ears and attune us to stories of your justice. Open our eyes to see places where your peace prevails. May comforting words be upon our tongues when we speak with those whose lives are in turmoil so they might find comfort and hope. Amen
Advent 3 – December 14
Ritual Action: Light the preceding weeks’ candles and one more. If you have a rose or pink candle, light this candle along with the preceding weeks’.
Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11
1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
John 1:6-8, 19-28
Focus Scripture: Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11
Question for Reflection: When the time comes that you see God, how or what around you do you want to see changed and how will you make the difference?
O God, anger and helplessness seem to rule the day. Dawn is almost here and there is so much left to do. Comforting words seem to fall short. Give me the voice of a prophet. Give me strength and courage to speak truth to power and to bring your healing grace to my community. Amen.
Advent 4 – December 21
Ritual Action: Light the preceding weeks’ candles and one more
2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16
Focus Scripture: 2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16
Question for Reflection: When you think of your heart as God’s dwelling place, what must you do to prepare God’s room?
Loving and merciful God, I open my heart to make it a dwelling place for you. Let me clear it of greed, vanity, and hubris. Let me rid it of arrogance and fear. Fill my heart with love so I might offer compassion, mercy, and grace to all who I meet wherever they might be. Grant that love will support all my ministries in your name. Amen.
Christmas Eve – December 24
Ritual Action: Light all the candles and the Christ candle
Hebrew 1:1-4, [5-12]
Focus Scripture: John 1:1-14
Question for Reflection: God has always been here. God is here. God will always be here. Are you ready and what will you tell the world?
O God, you have given me gifts to bring your day of peace and justice to this world. Release my tongue that I might tell your story. Open my hands that I might proclaim your grace with labors. I will sing your praises, O God. I will sing of your mighty deeds. I will be your hands and feet to continue the work you began as Jesus so all will know your peace and your justice. Amen.
Note: You can use this devotional without charge. If you distribute this to others, please be sure you attribute it to me with the following: “Used with permission by the author, the Rev. Quentin Chin.”