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A Season of Advent: Week Five

A Season of Advent - with Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children

Week Five: Christmas Eve: “Christ Candle”

As a part of the Advent season, you will light all four candles on the perimeter of the wreath and then you will light the white candle at the center.

To review, the first week, we lit a purple candle which is called the Prophecy candle. It reminds us of how God spoke to His people through the prophets, offering them the hope of a Savior. The purple candle from the second week is known as the Bethlehem candle. This candle reminds us that God came to us in humbleness and simplicity. The third candle, the Shepherd candle, was lit reminding us of the importance of the Shepherds as a part of celebrating and honoring the Christ child. The third purple candle lit last week was the angel candle signifying the role angels had in announcing the birth of Jesus.

Today, Christmas Eve, is a remarkable day to celebrate. Today, the last candle is to be lit, and it is called the Christ candle. It represents the life of Christ that has come into this world and to us individually. The color white represents purity. Christ is the sinless, spotless, pure Savior. The sole purpose for Jesus to be born was to pave the way for salvation and eternal life through his death, burial and resurrection. The scripture we read today comes from the gospel of John.

Today, you will light all five candles of the Advent wreath.

Scripture

Read John 3:1-8 Holman Christian Standard Version:

There was a man from the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Him at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher, for no one could perform these signs You do unless God were with him.”

Jesus replied, “I assure you: Unless someone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

“But how can anyone be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked Him. “Can he enter his mother’s womb a second time and be born?”

Jesus answered, “I assure you: Unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. Whatever is born of the flesh is flesh, and whatever is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I told you that you must be born again. The wind blows where it pleases, and you hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

Activity

Today, as we celebrate the birth of Christ, it allows us to have times of joy and happiness. Share with those gathered around you what brings joy to your life as a believer. If you are surrounded by children, this may be great time for a new tradition. Try baking a “Happy Birthday Jesus” cake and making this a part of your family Christmas celebration. This will help shift the emphasis placed on gifts to what the season is really all about- Jesus’ birth.

Prayer

“Heavenly Father, today as we celebrate your birth, so much of what is done leading up to this day is about commercialism. While it can be fun, it also can detract from the true reason for this day. My prayer today is that I have learned from the Advent season and have slowed down, remembering that you have planned everything in life. You have a plan that involves me in helping to share the truth not only about this day, but about the eternal life found in Jesus, your Son. Amen.”

Thank you for setting out on these Adventures in Advent with us! My prayer is that you and your loved ones experience Christmas like never before, in an attitude of anticipation for the coming of Christ. From my family to yours, Merry Christmas.

As we journey together,
Greg McNeece, OBHC President

A Season of Advent: Week Four

A Season of Advent - with Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children

Week Four: “Angel Candle”

As a part of the Advent season, you will light four candles, two purple, the one pink from last week and then you will light the remaining purple candle this week.

To review, the first week, we lit a purple candle which is called the Prophecy candle. It reminds us of how God spoke to His people through the prophets, offering them the hope of a Savior. The purple candle from the second week is known as the Bethlehem candle. This candle reminds us that God came to us in humbleness and simplicity. The third candle, the Shepherd candle, was lit last week reminding us of the importance of the Shepherds as a part of celebrating and honoring the Christ child.

As we journey into the fourth week of the Advent season, our focus today turns to the supernatural as we anticipate the actual birth of Jesus. Angels, in our culture today, hold much mystique. We have in our mind certain ideas of what angels look like. For many of us, angels are relegated to being pudgy, round-faced flying beings with harps. Angels are God’s messengers who announced the birth of Jesus. When we read today’s New Testament passage, we will see the vital role angels had in announcing to the world what was taking place.

Today, you will light the four candles on the perimeter of the advent wreath. Today, you will re-light the two purple candles, which have been lit previously, the pink candle from last week and the remaining purple candle.

Scripture

Read Luke 2:8-14 Holman Christian Standard Version:

In the same region, shepherds were staying out in the fields and keeping watch at night over their flock. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people: Today a Savior, who is Messiah the Lord, was born for you in the city of David. This will be the sign for you: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in cloth and lying in a feeding trough.”

Suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying: Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to people He favors!

Activity

What comes to mind when you think about angels? What do they look like? What do they do? Do angels look different from one another? There are many questions about the supernatural where we may not have the clearest answers. Talk with those gathered around you about other times in scripture where angels were messengers. If you remember, the angel Gabriel announced to Mary and Joseph that she would have a baby. We see later in scripture where the angel Michael announces the coming of Christ to John. Are there other times that you can recall God using angels as messengers in the Bible?

Prayer

“Father God, today I see where you used even the supernatural to conduct your greater plan. In our society where little is understood about angels, you used them to announce the greatest gift ever given – Jesus. At his birth, you used angels to become incarnate and do the work which no man could do! May I place my life before you and be ready to be used by you. I want to be used to benefit you and others. Amen.”

As we journey together,
Greg McNeece, OBHC President

 

 

No Daily Readings for Week Four or Christmas

A Season of Advent: Week Three

A Season of Advent - with Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children

Week Three: “Shepherd Candle”

As a part of the Advent season, you will light three candles, the two purple from last week and then your pink candle this week.

To review, the first week, we lit a purple candle which is called the Prophecy candle. It reminds us of how God spoke to His people through the prophets, offering them the hope of a Savior. The purple candle from week two is known as the Bethlehem candle. This candle reminds us that God came to us in humbleness and simplicity.

The third candle of the Advent season is traditionally referred to as the Shepherd candle. The shepherds sat on a quiet hilltop watching their sheep by night. They were common people like you and me. The angels announced the news of Jesus’ birth to them in the midst of their work.

It was not the rich and famous who first came to the baby, it was shepherds. They responded with wonder, curiosity and faith as they sought the Savior whom the angels proclaimed. The shepherds sought their Savior in the baby Jesus.

As we share in this week’s Advent celebration, we need to spend time focusing on what took place in and around the stable. Think on the people more than the environment. The scripture for today will shift from where we have been on the Old Testament, to a very familiar passage in the New Testament.

Today, you will light the two purple candles you have previously lit (the Prophecy candle) and the Bethlehem candle). Now, light the pink candle (the Shepherd candle).

Scripture

Read Luke 2:15-20 Holman Christian Standard Version:

When the angels had left them and returned to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go straight to Bethlehem and see what has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.”

They hurried off and found both Mary and Joseph, and the baby who was lying in the feeding trough. After seeing them, they reported the message they were told about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary was treasuring up all these things in her heart and meditating on them. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had seen and heard, just as they had been told.

Activity

If you think back to the time and culture of the birth of Jesus, what do you know about shepherds? Share what you know or tell what you think it was like being a shepherd during those days. Did you know that shepherds were young men predominantly in their early to mid-teenage years? Is there a job that you feel is comparable in our society to that of a shepherd? Share what you think it would be like if a “birth of Jesus” event happened in our culture to people who are comparable to the shepherds.

Prayer

“Amazing Father, I stand amazed at your work through the birth of Jesus. I should never be surprised how you orchestrate things in this life. Just as you used people who society defines as “lowly and dirty,” many times I inadvertently classify people in ways I should not. I actually need to help people of all walks of life. When I do think about others, I then realize I am not only encouraging them, but I potentially am affirming your call upon their life. Thank you for calling me to salvation and helping me to remember that I and others are a part of your plan of salvation. Amen.”

As we journey together,
Greg McNeece, OBHC President

 

 

Daily Readings for the Family

December 18—Luke 2:1-3, December 19—Luke 2:4-5, December 20—Luke 2:6, December 21—Romans 5: 12-15, December 22—2 Corinthians 9:15, December 23—Psalm 29:11

Ministry of Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children.