Advent Stories - Anticipating Christ With a Ring of Fire
by Tanya Goia (thejoyousfamily.com)
She made it happen every year no matter how busy we were. My mom somehow found time to retrieve our pottery advent wreath, buy 5 candles and settle all 4 of us around the table for the evening meal.
My family is very “Beaver Cleaver” in some respects. We not only ate dinner together we also all sat down to breakfast. (Homeschooling was not even in our vocabulary; so yes, we all rushed off to school or work each morning after a meal together).
Dinner was/is my favorite daily family time. The four of us gathered around the table; sharing the ordinary pieces of life, solving problems, telling stories and jokes. My introverted Mom was the joke bringer. She transformed our dinner conversations with jokes obtained from Reader’s Digest or co-workers. Her efforts to brighten our days end with laughter created a loving evening experience I hated to miss.
After Thanksgiving, familiar warmth of dinner time improved even more. As the cold of winter crept Mom added the advent candles wreath.
The advent candle ring invites anticipation of the coming of Jesus.
For one whole week you only lite a single candle in the wreath. Just one, while the other 4 perfectly good candles just stand there patiently waiting their turn.
As children around the table our limited patience produced questions .
Why can’t we lite the others?
It's not time yet, she answered.
Why do we lite candles for 4 weeks?
What does each candle mean?
What does this have to do with Christmas?
She answered all our questions through the visual acts of worship the advent wreath symbolizes.
Each candle has a name, she explained. A special name that led to a different part of the Jesus story.
Week 1 Hope - the Prophet's Candle, reminding us that Jesus is coming
Week 2 Faith - the Bethlehem Candle, represents Mary and Joseph's journey in faith
Week 3 Joy -the Mary Candle, the great joy at the birth of a savior
Week 4 Peace - the Shepherd’s Candle, the angel's proclamation of peace on earth at the birth of Jesus
Each night we would light the candle for that week, reading a short passage from the Bible and an advent devotional book. The advent devotional provided a modern story to connect us in our time to the ancient Biblical one. Singing followed the scripture readings.
This was my favorite part. Cold winter nights, dinner finished, family around the table singing. We boisterously chased away the dark of winter with hymns and Christmas carols.
Just like magic, whatever happened during the day just melted away into the warmth of family and fire light.
The act of singing brings air into the lungs and joy in the heart. Only much later, in my walk with God, I learned how much He loves singing and worship.
My mom, quietly, gently set the tone for the coming of Christmas. This event centers on the babe, her actions said. The God-man come to earth to save all mankind by a single sacrificial act, the second Adam.
On Christmas Day, after all the gleeful present unwrapping and a sugary breakfast. We settled in to read the whole Christmas story and light the final candle inside the advent ring.
Jesus’s Birthday finally arrives with more singing!
Emmanuel, Emmanuel God Incarnate Here to Dwell