Our family has made the four Sundays of Advent an important part of our Christmas celebration. The lighting of candles is so mesmerizing and a beautiful way to emphasize that the Light of Jesus is coming on Christmas. We turn off all the lights in the house Sunday night and light our candles. Such a stark contrast — light and dark — and a visual my kids anticipate every week. We do an advent reading and tell them about the Light that is coming on Christmas. Often we sing about this waiting anticipation with “O Come, O Come Emanuel”. The whole thing is short and simple, maybe 10 minutes, and done the four Sundays before Christmas. On Christmas day we will celebrate the Light of the world coming as a baby by lighting all the candles, and when we combine this visual with the burning out of the seven candles at Easter, it completes the picture. The Light comes and then is extinguished at his death on the cross, but is brightly celebrated as alive on the day of his resurrection. So the candles are lit fully at Christmas then burned out fully on the day of his death, then lit fully on the day he rose from the dead. Beautiful picture! I think this is my favorite activity of Christmas and Easter. There are so many excellent readings out there that you can use on these special Sundays (or whatever day you choose to do them on). Last year we used all of John Piper’s readings for Advent and Lent.
So today starts the first Sunday of Advent – the first candle is lit. This year we are using Prepare Him Room by M. Machowski. The kids ran around the house turning off all the lights and then arguing over whose book light Daddy would use and who would get to snuff out the candle when we were done. It takes persistent repetition to keep the kids focused on what we are doing and why. Sounds a lot like what God has to do for me, “sing it over again to me, wonderful words of life.” And the candles too are a reminder over and over again each year. Don’t forget. I need it put in front of my eyes again…and again…and again.