I was raised in more of the latter situation but have come to appreciate more of the former…especially with age. These seasons of the church calendar help us as our minds slide a bit, to focus better. For younger minds, the calendar helps begin to focus our minds in places they have never gone before.
Church Calendar and how it helps worship
Either way, these help us worship. In a culture that focuses more and more on the secular aspects of Christmas, we need to work harder to teach our children about the true meaning of Christmas or they won’t learn about it. I’m not talking about being negative all the time about the excesses of our culture at this time of year or taking an anti-Santa, anti-gift-giving approach.
Our kids need to know what we believe…and why! We need to state our beliefs in a positive way, not a negative one. As Christians, it is essential that our children understand about the Why? of Christmas. These worship opportunities at home and/or Church are tangible ones that help them learn.
In the same way, Israel had their ways to teach the truths GOD wanted His people to know…from the act of circumcision, to the annual observances of Passover where they talked about how their people had been saved from destruction as well as the offering of sacrifices to pay for sin.
These taught them that there was a sin problem to begin with as well as that there was a solution to sin…complete payment by someone outside myself…with blood.
There was a short term solution in sacrifices (that pointed to Christ’s sacrifice on the cross) as well as a coming solution in Christ who would permanently provide salvation by His death for sin and resurrection that showed triumph over sin and death!
Present day Sacraments
Now we have Baptism and Communion. What beautiful pictures of GOD’s grace to us: the eating and drinking in of Christ’s body and blood to symbolize taking in all of Him! Baptism speaks of the cleansing blood of Christ. Depending on your theology, you believe in either sprinkling as of the blood of Christ sprinkled to atone for sin or immersion as a reminder of the death and resurrection of Christ.
Both point back to the cleansing provided on the cross by His blood. I’m not going to argue the points…there are honest believers on both sides of the issue and a Biblical case can be made for each one. Of course, I have my own view. This isn’t the place to argue it right now.
There are quite a few variations on the advent candles, I’ll share the one I found along with Scripture readings.
The Prophecy Candle rekindles our Hope in the promises of GOD
This is also called the Candle of Hope or Expectation. It is also called the Prophecy Candle. It is a purple candle. (One of 4 candles–3 purple, 1 rose colored, +1 white for the center)
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
a light has dawned.
You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy;
they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest,
as warriors rejoice when dividing the plunder.
For as in the day of Midian’s defeat,
you have shattered the yoke that burdens them,
the bar across their shoulders,
the rod of their oppressor.
Every warrior’s boot used in battle
and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning,
will be fuel for the fire.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
will accomplish this.
Isaiah 9:2-7 NIV
And again, Isaiah says,
“The Root of Jesse will spring up,
one who will arise to rule over the nations;
in him the Gentiles will hope.”
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him,
so that you may overflow with hope
by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Blessings this week as you seek to worship GOD and remember His faithfulness in keeping His word. All those years when it looked hopeless that the nation of Isrel would even survive much less the Promised One would come…but when it looked most hopeless? There He came…in a surprising way!
GOD doesn’t forget His promises! Be encouraged by Romans 15:13 above.