Over the past few years I have recently learned to appreciate the season of Advent. I grew up in church traditions that typically did not follow the church calendar nor celebrate Advent.
Though my particular church does not formally follow Advent, I have taken it upon myself to prepare for the Christmas season spiritually through the blessing of the Advent season.
We are also doing a new series at youth group on Advent, based from a number of Lectionary studies and advent devotions.
What I appreciate so much about Advent is the rich and vast history of it in the Christian church. When we celebrate Advent we are tapping into a long line of believers and church history. Additionally, millions of Christians around the world and across denominational lines join together in preparing hearts for Christ’s arrival. It joins Orthodox, Protestant, and Catholic Christians together in anticipation and celebration on what should unite us all….Jesus Christ.
In the busyness and chaos of the holiday season, I find myself more and more in need of reflection and solitude. Advent readings help me focus on why Christ came and to prepare my own heart daily for his arrival and presence.
So often I would wait until the day before Christmas, when all the buying and wrapping and parties were over to really slow down and focus on what really matters-why we celebrate Christmas.
Advent provides time and space each day (or least on the Sundays leading up to Christmas) to do this intentionally.
We are encouraging our teens this year through a number of ways. I would love to hear what you do to help prepare your students for the incarnation of Christ.
1) We are doing a 4-part series on Advent: Hope, The Way, Joy, and Peace
2) We have an advent calendar in our youth room
3) We will have an advent wreath and lighting of a candle for each week
4) We will have a nativity scene, without the Christ child, and will place him in the manger after our Christmas Eve service
5) We will give each student an Advent devotional
6) We adopt a family in need for Christmas, purchase gifts and visit them to decorate a tree and sing carols
7) We encourage our students to ask for one less gift or $$ instead and to support a charity, sponsor a child, or give to someone in need
Last year we watched the movie “The Nativity Story” during the last Sunday school before Christmas. Might do that again The Nativity Story
*Please share ideas and resources you have used!
Here are some resources to help awaken advent in your youth ministry or church
The First Candle (The Candle of Prophecy/Hope)
The first candle is sometimes called the candle of prophecy because it symbolizes the promises the prophets delivered as messages from God; promises that foretold Christ’s birth. Others consider the candle to be a symbol of the hope we have in Christ and so it is called the Hope candle.
The Second Candle (The Candle of the Way)
The second candle shows that Christ is the Way. Christians are lost in sin and Christ is the Light sent into the world to show them the way out of darkness.
The Third Candle (The Candle of Joy)
The third candle indicates that the only lasting Joy to be found in life on earth is through Christ. All other joy is fleeting and does not last.
The Fourth Candle (The Candle of Peace)
The fourth candle reminds that Jesus comes to bring Peace to both the world and to people’s hearts. Without Christ there is no peace in this world.
The Fifth Candle (The Christ Candle or Christmas Candle)