On the Fourth Sunday of Advent

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God became man.

But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
though you are small among the clans[b] of Judah,
out of you will come for me
one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,
from ancient times.
Therefore Israel will be abandoned
until the time when she who is in labor bears a son,
and the rest of his brothers return
to join the Israelites.
He will stand and shepherd his flock
in the strength of the Lord,
in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
And they will live securely, for then his greatness
will reach to the ends of the earth.

Micah 5:2-4

The fourth Sunday of Advent prepares for the birth of Christ.

Advent traditions differ as sometimes do the meanings of the candles. Traditionally the fourth candle means love and represents the love of Christ who came to the earth sinless to take on himself the sins of the world.

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

John 13:15

Love Came Down at Christmas

Love came down at Christmas,
Love all lovely, love divine;
Love was born at Christmas,
Star and angels gave the sign.

Worship we the Godhead,
Love incarnate, love divine;
Worship we our Jesus:
But wherewith for sacred sign?

Love shall be our token,
Love be yours and love be mine,
Love to God and all men,
Love for plea and gift and sign.

Cristina Rosetti

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The Third Sunday of Advent – Joy!

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Today is the third Sunday of Advent and the focus is Joy.

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The
Lord is near.
– Philippians 4:4-5

Why is the third candle in the Advent Wreath traditionally pink?

When the Christian Church was in the earliest years, the season of Advent was not observed, only the season of Lent leading up to Easter and the celebration of the Resurrection of Christ. Lent is a season of fasting and prayer. Traditional colors during this time were deep purple which signify royalty, repentance and suffering. But on the third Sunday of Lent the church was encouraged not to fast, but to feast and celebrate, signifying the hope of Christ. In the earliest of times the Pope would present a pink rose to a citizen and over the years pink became the color of the vestments for priests on this Sunday. When the Church adopted the season of Advent, the third candle was pink to honor the tradition of Lent.

But the candles were also named in anticipation of the coming of Christ. The first candle was Hope, the second Peace, the third Joy, and the four Love.

Some traditions refer to this as the Shepherd Candle as the angels sang a message of Joy to the Shepherds.

…and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger,
because there was no guest room available for them.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An
angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were
terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great
joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah,
the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to
Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

– Luke 2:7-15

And, a prayer for the season:

Five Advent Blogs that We Love

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The Advent season is upon us. We’ve talked about the first and second Sundays of Advent.

To learn more, visit this blogs with a special focus on the season.

Hope is Here
This blog is part of the Advent season, as observed by the Glen Elm Church of Christ. Since 2010, it has been a hub of thoughts, posts, and videos compiled by members and friends of the congregation.

The Advent Door
Jan Richardson brings thoughts on a contemplative Christmas.

Gail Seidel at Engage talks about Anticipating Advent.

Aleteia offers ways to Keep the season, but keep it simple.

Highland Park Presbyterian Church offers Scripture-centered devotions for Advent.

The Second Sunday of Advent

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The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel (which means “God with us”).

– Matthew 1:23

The focus of the Second Sunday of Advent has traditionally been that of Divine Love. The love of a God who would send his son to earth to pay the price of sin.

Jesus said:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.

Matthew 22:37-40

With all of the horrible, painful news that floods the airways today it is sometimes difficult to remember love. It seems as though there is very little love out there.

And when people of faith turn to prayer and love, sometimes they get mocked. Read more about that here.

But Advent and Christmas is a time for people of faith to remember that there is hope. Hope that was born in a manger.

The First Sunday of Advent

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All last week Americans heard over and over about Thanksgiving and Black Friday. But  today is the First Sunday of Advent and in the Christian faith this is the beginning of the season, the looking toward the Coming of the Christ child.

Sunday, November 2 begins the liturgical season of Advent in Western Christian churches. This may involve special prayers and the lighting of the first Advent candle.

Some churches or families may choose to follow an Advent calendar counting down the days until Christmas. After World War II, military personnel and their families who had been stationed in Germany brought them home to the United States.

In Eastern Christian churches a similar observance, called the Nativity Fast, runs for 40 days.

“The days are coming, says the LORD,
when I will fulfill the promise
I made to the house of Israel and Judah.
In those days, in that time,
I will raise up for David a just shoot ;
he shall do what is right and just in the land.
In those days Judah shall be safe
and Jerusalem shall dwell secure;
this is what they shall call her:
“The LORD our justice.”
Jeremiah 33:14-16

Old Testament Scholar, Dr. John Oswalt, speaks to how the Old Testament speaks of the coming of Christ.

Here are some resources to help celebrate Advent.

You Version (the electronic Bible) has featured reading and devotional plans for Christmas and Advent.

d365 offers Devotionals for 365 Days a year and offers “Following the Star” an Advent guide with Scripture and meditations. The series begins today with “Hope.” Writer Mihee Kim-Kort, says: “Advent is a seson in which we can cultivate a posture of waiting and watching with hope.”

How to Make an Advent Wreath
Catholicism at About.com

Apartment Therapy offers 35 DIY Advent Calendars to Make Now So You’re Ready for December. There are options for those not of the Christian faith who still wish to count down the days to Christmas.

Advent, it’s about preparing the way.