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Advent Season at Emmaus Christian Fellowship

One of the joys of starting a new church is having the opportunity to establish new traditions. Traditions can be either good or bad depending on how they are approached. If they become routine they can actually hinder the gospel by distracting from it; if they are approached with sincerity of heart and mind they can serve to illuminate and magnify the gospel in our midst.

One of the traditions that we are going to establish here at Emmaus is the observance of Advent. For most of us, this is nothing new. I can remember back to my early days as a child seeing families walk to the front of the church to read something and to light a candle or two. I think I was more impressed with the fire than I was with the reading, but I do remember the tradition! Now that I am a father and a Pastor I find myself excited about the possibility of making this a meaningful part our family and church tradition.

The word advent comes from the Latin word adventus meaning “coming”. It is during this season that we are to remember the first coming of Christ and also look forward to His second coming. Advent begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas and also includes Christmas eve or Christmas day.

It was interesting to do a little research on the Advent tradition. As it turns out, there are many different ways to approach Advent. There are traditionally five candles, one for each Sunday leading up to Christmas and one for Christmas eve or Christmas day. Often the candles are organized in a ring to symbolize that God is eternal, the Alpha and Omega without beginning or end, and typically the candles are a particular color (three purple or blue to symbolize royalty, one pink to symbolize joy, and one white to symbolize the Christ). There is significant diversity within these traditions and, in some ways, I am glad for the diversity. It is not the arrangement of candles nor the color of candles that really matters, the point is that we remember Jesus.

Over the next five weeks we will have five families light candles and read scripture at Emmaus. For Advent season 2011 we will focus on the five songs (or pieces of poetry) found in Luke’s gospel.  On November 27th the first candle will be lit and Mary’s song found in Luke 1:46-55 will be read. On December 4th the first and second candle will be lit and Zechariah’s song found in Luke 1:67-79 will be read. On December 11th candles one through three will be lit and John the Baptists song (poetry) found in Luke 3:1-18 will be read. On December 18th candles one through four will be lit and the angels song found in Luke 2:14 will be read. And finally, on Christmas day all five candles will be lit and Simeon’s song will be read from Luke 2:28-32.

It may be that we focus on different scriptures and themes in 2012 for the sake of fighting against falling into a routine. The point is that we remember Jesus during this holiday season. With each Sunday the candles will burn more brightly as a reminder that Jesus is the light of the world. May He shine fourth from each of our lives as we represent Him in this dark place. I am praying for Emmaus, that we would have an opportunity to proclaim the gospel to our friends, family, and our neighbors and that the lighting of the Advent candles would remind us to do that very thing.

Blessings,

Joe

 

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"Him we proclaim,
warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom,
that we may present everyone mature in Christ."
(Colossians 1:28, ESV)

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