A Preface to This Adventure
What is Advent? Advent comes from the Latin word “adventus” meaning arrival or coming. The Hebrews looked forward to the coming of a Savior or Messiah – the First Advent. Now, we are waiting expectantly for His return to sweep His bride off of our feet – the Second Advent. The Church has been waiting for HIm to come back from the moment He left the first time.
Why Should I Participate in Advent?
So, what does Advent have to do with celebrating the arrival of Jesus? Traditionally, Advent counts down the four weeks leading up to Christmas. Practically, Advent reminds us to look forward to His return every day. This season is about resettling Jesus Christ at the center of our lives. After all, when He comes to take us home forever, we want to be ready. Expect to be inspired, challenged, refocused, broken, motivated, unified, encouraged, and most of all, expectant.
How Do I Use This Reading Plan?
Each day provides daily reflection questions and often a suggested activity to help you center that day on Jesus. You can go in order or you can skip around and pick a day that you feel would be the most beneficial. You can go through the plan as an individual, but think of ways to do them in groups or as a family. Some activities will be things that you may already do during the Christmas season, but will suggest a Christ-centered way to think about it. Other activities will be things that you have never done before, so be open-minded and willing to try something new. Each day will include Exposure, Exploration, Expression and Experience. You may find that you want to read the Additional Content each day before the scripture to guide what you’re looking for.
Exposure: Read the account of two people who water every day in the Temple for Jesus’ arrival. To add a traditional element, look up information about Advent wreaths and set up something like it in your home to use during this time. Yours can be as simple as four candles arranged in a circle.
Exploration: Discuss or journal about these two people who were blessed by seeing God’s Savior with their own eyes. How can your life reflect this kind of anticipation?
Expression: Think about how you anticipate Christmas. How much of this feeling of excitement is centered on the arrival of Christ?
Experience: Before you dive into this 25-day journey, spend some time in prayer. Ask God to open your eyes so your vision of Jesus becomes clearer than it has ever been. Ask God to make you more aware of what it means to live your life with the expectation of the Advent of Jesus. Even on a personal level, when Jesus comes, life truly is and ADVENTure. Let’s experience it fully this Christmas season!
Eight days later, when the baby was circumcised, he was named Jesus, the name given him by the angel even before he was conceived. Then it was time for their purification offering, as required by the law of Moses after the birth of a child; so his parents took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord. The law of the Lord says, “If a woman’s first child is a boy, he must be dedicated to the Lord.” So they offered the sacrifice required in the law of the Lord – “either a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”
At that time there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon. He was righteous and devout and was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel. The Holy Spirit was upon him and had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. That day the Spirit led him to the Temple. So when Mary and Joseph came to present the baby Jesus to the Lord as the law required, Simeon was there. He took the child in his arms and praised God, saying,
“Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace as you have promised. I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all people. He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel!”
Jesus’ parents were amazed at what was being said about him. Then Simeon blessed them, and he said to Mary, the baby’s mother, “This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, but he will be a joy to many others. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose him. As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very soul.”
Anna, a prophet, was also there in the Temple. She was the daughter of Phannel from the tribe of Asher, and she was very old. Her husband died when they had been married only seven years. Then she lived as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the Temple but stayed there day and night, worshiping God with fasting and prayer. She came along just as Simeon was talking with Mary and Joseph, and she began praising God. She talked about the child to everyone who had been waiting expectantly for God to rescue Jerusalem.
When Jesus’ parents had fulfilled all of the requirements of the Lord, they returned home to Nazareth in Galilee. There the child grew up healthy and strong. He was filled with wisdom, and God’s favor was on him.
Rediscovering the Christmas Season, The ADVENTure Begins