Double Oak Community Church Advent Devotionals

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1 Page 1 Double Oak Community Church Advent Devotionals What is Advent? Advent is the season leading to Christmas Day. It is a time of excitement and expectation. It is a time of looking back to the birth and importance of Jesus, while also awaiting His return. What are Advent devotionals? For centuries, Christians have celebrated the Sundays leading up to Christmas by lighting candles, reading the stories about the birth of Jesus, and discussing the importance of Jesus life. We hope that these devotionals allow you and your family to focus on Jesus during this Christmas Season. What do I need? You will need this devotional guide, a Bible, 4 White Candles, 1 Purple or Red Candle, and a wreath or greenery surrounding the candles. When do we read the devotionals? The devotionals are designed for reading on the four Sundays leading up to Christmas and on Christmas Eve. Thus, there are 5 total devotionals. If you are not able to read them on Sunday, any other day of the week will be fine as well. What happens during the devotional? The devotional begins with a Scripture Reading, a few short questions, and a brief devotional statement to be read by the person leading. It also includes the lighting of candles for each of the Sundays and Christmas Eve. Thanks to Kelly Stephenson, who wrote the short devotional statements for each Advent Sunday and Christmas Eve.

2 Page 2 December 1 Scripture: Matthew 1:18-25 What kinds of preparations do parents make when they are awaiting the birth of a child? Can you imagine Joseph and Mary making similar preparations back then? What types of preparations do we make to get ready to celebrate the birth of Jesus? What are your favorites and why? How can these preparations cause us to focus more on Jesus during this Advent Season? Devotional: [Light one white candle] Today, we begin the celebration of Advent by lighting the first Advent candle. The word Advent literally means coming. It is important for us, in the middle of our busy lives, to be reminded to stop and make mental and spiritual preparation for the coming celebration of Jesus birth. Traditionally, the celebration of Advent has been observed in the Christian faith for hundreds of years, with the first reported Advent celebrations taking place in the fourth century. This Christmas Season, we join with Christ-followers who, across the centuries, have used this celebration to turn their attention to the birth of Jesus.

3 Page 3 December 8 Scripture: Luke 1: How did Mary initially respond to the news of the coming birth of Jesus (see verses 29, 30, and 34)? After finding out about Jesus birth, Mary has a lot of waiting to do. In verses 39-56, what are the things that Mary does as she waits for the birth of Jesus? What things in life are difficult to wait for? Why is it so difficult? Is there anything good that can come from waiting for something? What are you looking forward to this Christmas season? Devotion: [Light two white candles] The word anticipation is defined by Webster as a feeling of excitement about something that is going to happen. The word advent can be defined in the same way. Advent is about hope for a better outcome. It is the looking forward that allows us to rise above our present struggles. And it is the longing for God s peace in this world of chaos. That s what we celebrate in these weeks leading to the birth of God s Son into our world. However, with anticipation comes the inevitable element of waiting. Admit it, we don t like to wait we live in an instant gratification society. But, the celebration of Advent that we experience each week helps us realize that in waiting, our eyes become refocused on the One we are anticipating. Refocusing our hearts on Him is when we find the ultimate, deepest joy and peace. So, today we light the 2 nd candle of Advent. This candle reminds us that it is good to anticipate Jesus and His coming. With that anticipation of Jesus,

4 Page 4 we experience a longing for Jesus that will refocus our hearts on the true purpose of this Christmas celebration.

5 Page 5 December 15 Scripture: Luke 2:1-21 What is the response of the shepherds to the announcement of the birth of Jesus? After visiting Jesus, verse 18 says that the people wondered at what the Shepherds said. Why were the people amazed at what they said? What is amazing to you about the birth of Jesus? How can our present day response to Christmas be similar to the response of the shepherds at the first Christmas? What hinders us from that kind of response? Devotion: [Light 3 white candles] Advent is a traditional part of the celebration of the coming of Christ. The word advent literally means the coming or arrival, especially of something or someone that is extremely important. And so, with these Advent candles, we celebrate the coming of Jesus Christ into the world. He is the central figure in history and came into the world in a way that caused great wonder and amazement. Even the manner in which He was born caused people to ponder the surroundings of His birth. As the Son of God, we would assume that He would be born in a grand palace or to great, attention-gathering, worldwide fanfare. After all, His birth was the incarnation of God Himself into a human body and as such, was appropriately announced with a grand and spectacular angelic chorus. Yet this spectacular presentation, that would have made the largest Disney or Hollywood production pale in comparison, played to an audience of only 5 or 6 uneducated, unkempt, and uncouth shepherds who were out in the middle of a totally unpopulated desert area. His coming in the form of a helpless baby into the care of a poor, unprepared, unmarried teenage girl was shocking. No wonder the people who were aware of His birth were said to be amazed and stand in wonder.

6 Page 6 So, today we light this candle of Advent to remind us that our Savior was born in the lowliest of circumstances, so that He could identify with the least among us. It is the amazing love of God for mankind that causes us to wonder at the depth of His love for broken, sinful people like us.

7 Page 7 December 22 Scripture: Matthew 2:1-15 What is the farthest you have ever travelled away from home? Why did you travel so far? Was it worth it to travel so far? In today s reading, we see that the Wise Men travelled very far to get to Bethlehem. Why were they willing to travel so far to see Jesus? Why did the Wise Men bring gifts to the baby Jesus? What effect did Jesus have on these Wise Men? Although the birth of Jesus was over 200 years ago, what effect does his birth have on me today? Devotion: [Light 4 white candles] A professor named Jaroslav Pelikan wrote these words about Jesus Christ: "Regardless of what anyone may personally think or believe about Him, Jesus of Nazareth has been the dominant figure in the history of western culture for almost 20 centuries. If it were possible, with some sort of supermagnet, to pull up out of that history every scrap of metal bearing at least a trace of His name, how much would be left?" I must confess that I tend to be a bit self-absorbed. I often think about Jesus' on a very small scale. I am inclined to think of Him only as part of my little life or our little church. I hardly ever stand back and recognize the scope, the sheer awe-inspiring enormity, of His impact on the world. Walt Disney's daughter, Diane, wrote a biography of her dad several years ago. In it, she tells us that when she was a little girl, she didn t realize who her dad was, or what he did, until she was almost seven years old. To her, he wasn t anyone special. He was just her dad. But, she remembers one day while she was at school, there were kids who said, "You know, Mickey Mouse and the Magic Kingdom and all that stuff? That's your dad." She went home and said to him, "Dad, how come you

8 Page 8 never told me? You're Walt Disney!" It's a little bit like that. Our Savior, Jesus, came into a broken world and radically changed history. Even today, His fingerprints are all over the globe. His love, His power, His influence is still alive and active in our world and in our lives. So, today we light the 4th candle of Advent. This candle reminds us that our Savior is the One whose life, death, and resurrection changed history and gives each of us and the whole world an opportunity for a new life.

9 Page 9 December 24 Scripture: Luke 2: 1-7 Joseph and Mary had waited and waited for the birth of Jesus. Do you think this is how they had envisioned his birth? Why? On this Christmas Eve, how do you envision Christmas Day? What are your favorite parts of Christmas? As you think about Christmas Day, what role does Jesus play in that special day? As Mary wrapped Jesus in his clothes and laid him in the manger, the birth of Jesus was very real he had finally come! The presence of Jesus in their lives was now very evident. How would the presence of this new baby change their lives? As we come to the climax of the Advent Season, how can the presence of Jesus change our lives today? Devotion: [Light all 5 candles] Tonight, we come to light the last candle of Advent. This center candle is the Christ candle. It reminds us that He is not just an idea or a feeling. He is the Incarnation of God Himself. In John 14:9, Jesus said to him, Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. If you want to know what God Himself is like, look at Jesus life. Tonight we celebrate the reality that He came and lived among humanity. In his time on earth, He modeled for us how we ought to treat each other. Then He gave Himself as a sacrifice as payment for our broken and sin-filled lives. This self-sacrificing God is whom we worship and celebrate tonight. So as we light this final candle of Advent, let s reflect on how the birth of Jesus changed us and the entire world.

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