We started doing advent as a family last year. I wanted to do something a little more meaningful to anticipate Christmas . I found a little book that went along with the movie "The Nativity"...called "looking forward to the Nativity" . It has family devotions and a family activity for each day in December. Its maybe slightly old for them but they seem to be getting something out of it and lighting the candles each Sunday is a highlight for them. Of course they fight over who gets to light them and who blows them out....as if there aren't enough to go around. Last year we watched the movie together on Christmas Eve. I think I'd like to find another book for next year and then rotate every year or so.
The book we read each evening in our family time is going through Gods story of redemption from the beginning until Christs birth...the fulfillment. Last week the candle was called the "promise candle". Advent candles can represent different things depending on what guide or book you are using..or what your want them to represent. Its not a legistic ritual...its a reminder and a way to look forward to Christmas, so next year we might do something different with the candles. Last week we learned about Gods promise to Abraham . That from his lineage would come the Savior, the Messiah. We looked at how throughout history Gods promise held.
Through a sordid human gene pool.
Through disobedience and lack of trust.
Through scandal, murder, adultery and excile,
Through 200 years of slavery....his promise held.
The earthly lineage of Jesus included Jacob the swindler, King David the adulterer, Ruth the foreigner, King Manesseh the murderer and Rahab the prostitute....just to name a few.
It seems most of His lineage were also either idol worshipers or crooks . A handful were men and woman of amazing faith but even those people frequently stumbled.
What was the common bond between all these people? A promise.
Why did God use these people? ( Other than to give us hope that if He can use them ,He can use us too) He certainly didn't have to use these individuals , the Messiah could have come riding a flaming chariot out of the clouds or been dropped on a Kings doorstep. It would have seemed simpler that way. But God had a reason for using imperfect people. He had a plan to use all the blunders and mistakes of His people.
I think one of the reasons He gives us the entire Old Testement with all its shady stories of less than perfect people is that he knows that our lives are often uncertain....and also full of mistakes. We watch the evening news and worry. We watch the economy crash and wonder. We look at our bank account and dispair. We stand by a grave and feel abandoned.
He wants us to know that His promises stand, when the world is full of Chaos, he is calm and his purpose is unshaken.
Famines can't starve it
Earth Quakes can't shake it.
Hurricanes can't dissolve it.
Isrealites bumbling through the dessert for 40 years can't change it.
Death can't destroy it.
A crashing economy can't derail it.
He remains...his promises remain.
"The engineer has not abondoned the train"
"In this world you will have trouble, but be brave! I have defeated the world. " (John 16:33)
This Sunday's candle (the second candle) was the Prophet Candle. So this week we will be reading about the people God chose to be his messengers. The ones who fortold the coming of Christ centuries before his birth. The sometimes unwilling but obedient servants who shed the tears of Christ before He came and who's broken hearts beat along with Gods own heart.
"Oh come, O come Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Isreal,
That mourns in lonely excile here.
Until the son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
shall come to thee , O Isreal!"