«ADVENT © 2015 The Village Church 2101 Justin Road, Flower Mound, Texas. All rights reserved. Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy ...»
© 2015 The Village Church
2101 Justin Road, Flower Mound, Texas.
All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible
(The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®),
copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry
of Good News Publishers. Used by permission.
All rights reserved.
Excerpts on pages 12, 20, 27, 35 and 45 taken from
The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones,
text copyright © 2007 by Sally Lloyd-Jones. Used by
permission of Zondervan (www.zondervan.com).
You are permitted to use the 2015 Advent Guide in your church or ministry for free, as long as you do not change or add to the guide in any way, charge for the guide or use it for any commercial purpose. This nonexclusive, revocable license expires on Dec. 31, 2015.
Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look. Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 PETER 1:8-13 The King is coming. Jesus Christ has come and will come again. This is the hope of the Church whom He purchased with His blood. Jesus’ coming is the eager expectation and desire of His people. It is our joy because He is our treasure and greatest good. This is the theme of “Advent,” formed from a Latin word meaning “coming” or “arrival.” It’s the traditional celebration of the first advent of Jesus in humility and the anxious awaiting of His second advent in glory. The season is a time for remembering and rejoicing, watching and waiting.
HISTORY AND TRADITIONSThe Advent season officially begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas and continues until Christmas Eve or Day. There are a variety of ways to celebrate the Advent season, depending on tradition and background. Many people use an Advent calendar, typically made up of 24 “windows” containing Scriptures, stories, poems or gifts, to count down the days until Christmas. As each window is opened and the final day draws closer, expectation increases. This reminds us of the hopeful yet anxious waiting God’s people experienced as they longed for the promised Savior to come.
Another popular tradition is marking the progression of the season through an Advent wreath made up of five candles. This symbol is borrowed from the emphasis throughout Scripture of Jesus Christ being the Light of the World (Matt. 4:16; John 1:4-9; 8:12). Each week a new candle is lit in anticipation of Christmas Eve. The last candle, called the Christ Candle, is lit on Christmas Eve to represent Jesus’ first advent. Through this theme of ever-increasing light penetrating the darkness, we see a picture of the gospel.
Advent - 5 Regardless of the tradition, Advent is a significant time in the life of the church. It’s an opportunity for believers to remember God’s promise to send One who would overcome sin and death forever.
God promised a Savior, and He kept that promise perfectly.
USING THE GUIDEThis guide contains five weeks of material, with both a study to complete on your own as well as a plan to help families talk about the Advent narrative together. The family portions are designed to work for families of all shapes and sizes and do not require extensive preparation. Either portion of the guide can also be used to facilitate discussion within your Home Group or with friends, roommates or other community.
The Advent study walks through the narrative of Jesus’ birth. It begins in the Garden with God’s promise of a Savior and ends with an eager anticipation of Jesus’ promised return. In the middle, God shows His unmistakable faithfulness in sending the promised Rescuer. We see His love for the lowly and outcast as He proclaims the news of His Son to the shepherds. We marvel at His heart to see all nations come and worship His Son through the Magi’s journey.
Even if you know the Advent narrative well, don’t rush past what God has for you in this season. For many, this may be the first time to consider all that God is saying through the birth of His Son. For others, it will be an opportunity to rediscover the way God intimately works in the details of life for His glory and the good of man. For all of us, may this season be one marked by hope, expectation, remembrance and worship. The King has come and is coming! There is much to celebrate.
A NOTE FOR FAMILIES
Advent is an opportunity to pause and reflect on the birth of Jesus. But especially for families, this time of year can be filled to the brim with activities and obligations. Before the calendar begins to overflow, set aside a few minutes to consider what you want this season to be for your family. Then make a plan so that a time intended to remember and celebrate doesn’t get swallowed up by lesser things.
To help toward that end, we have provided a family portion each week that will help you create intentional time to talk about Jesus. If you choose to use the Advent wreath as the guide suggests, put it in a special, visible place in the house to serve as a reminder of Jesus’ coming. There is also a song each week for your family to sing or listen to together. These songs are available on our Advent playlist posted to Spotify.
We wrote the family portions of the guide with preschool and elementary-aged children in mind. If you have older children, consider having each person work through the “Personal Study” section in place of reading the family commentary, and then come together to talk about what you learned.
Advent - 6PLAYLISTS AND PINTEREST
In both the “Personal Study” and “Family Discipleship Time” sections, you’ll find suggested songs to listen to every week. These songs are available on our Advent playlist posted to Spotify (villagechurchtx). We hope and pray these songs encourage you and your family throughout the season.
There are many suggested activities in the “With Your Family” sections of the Advent guide. Our hope is not to give you a long list of things to “do,” but rather to provide options to help you look to Jesus in creative ways this season. We have created a Pinterest board (pinterest.com/villagechurchtx) where you can find ideas, examples and instructions for many of these activities.
APPENDICES Appendix A: Additional Activities for Families During the Advent Season Appendix B: Recommended Resources Appendix C: Additional Scriptures for Study and Reflection
But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he has made glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.
Many of us grew up with the story of Advent beginning in a stable. But, the story begins in a Garden.
When God created the world, all things were just as they should be. Creation functioned in perfect order according to God’s beautiful design. Man walked in unbroken relationship with God, fully known and unafraid. But in an instant, all that changed as Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s good instruction. They took of the fruit and ate, and sin entered the world. Fellowship broken. Peace shattered. Creation thrown into chaos. Darkness, depravity, fear, shame and selfishness flooded the human heart, separating man from God. The situation was dire.
But right then, amid the darkness, God spoke a word of hope: a Savior would come, born of a woman, to defeat the enemy and deliver God’s people.
Scholars refer to Genesis 3:15 as the proto euangelion or the “first gospel.” From the first moment of our need for rescue, God’s promise was there. Before He addressed Adam and Eve, God turned to the serpent and announced that sin would not have the final say and that the schemes of the enemy would not prevail.
Shadows, Hints and Whispers of His Coming
Throughout the Old Testament, God spoke to His people about this promise and gave them things to watch for in order to recognize the Savior’s coming. God revealed that the Messiah would be born in the line of David (Isa. 9:6-7), of the tribe of Judah (Gen. 49:10) and in the town of Bethlehem (Mic. 5:2). He would be a Man of Sorrows—crushed, despised and rejected—justifying many through what He suffered (Isa. 53). The promised Deliverer would be a light overcoming darkness (Isa. 9:2), a Preacher of Good News to the poor (Isa. 61) and One walking in the power of the Spirit (Isa. 42:1). There were hints and shadows of Him everywhere.
God also reminded His people not to lose heart as they waited for the Savior to come. It’s important to remember that God did not fulfill His promise right away. His people waited a long time. They spoke of the promised Rescuer from generation to generation, enduring cycles of war, rebellion, captivity and restoration. They watched and waited—anxiously, expectantly—for God’s faithfulness.
We can all identify with feeling hopeless, helpless and in desperate need of rescue, especially when it comes to the weight of sin. Heavy and inescapable, we know its effects with every breath—both our own sin and that of others. Our world is full of evidence that something is wrong and needs to be made right. The reason we celebrate Advent is because the story of the Garden doesn’t end with man’s rebellion—but instead his redemption.
Advent - 10Reflection
Consider the way God used Moses to deliver His people from bondage in Egypt (Ex. 12-14). Was there any way for the Israelites to escape their slavery apart from God’s provision and power?
How is sin an even harsher, more oppressive master than Pharaoh? What is our only hope of deliverance?
Think about Israel’s long wait for the promised Savior to come. How do you think God’s people fought against doubt, discouragement and the temptation to believe God forgot them?
God often gives us seasons of waiting to sift and strengthen our faith. If you are in a season of waiting, what might the Lord be teaching you?
God reveals many things about His nature and character through the birth of His Son. What attributes of God do you see in this part of the Advent narrative?
Response What is one hope you have for yourself, your family or your community as you begin the Advent season? How will you make that a reality?
Pray for yourself and those around you, asking God to open your eyes and heart to what He has for you this Advent season.
Songs of the Season O Come, O Come Emmanuel Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus
Set aside ten minutes one night this week to talk about God’s promise to rescue His children from sin. The only materials needed are five candles, matches and a Bible.
Lighting of the Advent Candle Have one member of the family light the first candle.
Scripture Reading Have one person read the following passages out loud.
Before they left the garden, God whispered a promise to Adam and Eve: “It will not always be so! I will come to rescue you! And when I do, I’m going to do battle against the snake. I’ll get rid of the sin and the dark and the sadness you let in here. I’m coming back for you!” And he would. One day, God himself would come.
THE JESUS STORYBOOK BIBLEFor to us a child is born, to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. ISAIAH 9:6
Reflection Briefly talk about what it means to be rescued from something. When might you need to be saved from danger? Whom would you call upon to rescue you? For example, if there were a fire, whom would you call to save you? What are rescuers typically like?
Have an adult read the commentary below.
In the very beginning, God created a perfect world. There was no sin, pain, sickness, death or sadness. God created Adam and Eve to live in His perfect world with joy and peace. But Adam and Eve sinned. They disobeyed God. When they sinned, God’s perfect world broke.
Ask: Because Adam and Eve disobeyed God, each of us needs to be rescued from something. What do we need rescue from?
But before Adam and Eve left God’s perfect Garden, God made a promise. God promised to send a Rescuer, someone to save Adam, Eve and mankind from the punishment of sin. He promised to send Jesus!
God did not send Jesus to rescue His people right away. God waited thousands of years to send the Rescuer. During that time, God’s people faced many hard things. While they waited, God gave them hints and clues about how Jesus would come, what He would do and what He would be like. These hints, written in Scriptures by prophets, would help God’s people wait. The verse from Isaiah that we read together after lighting the Advent candle was written while God’s people waited those thousands of years for the Savior.
During that time, God made other promises to His children and kept those promises. Each time God made and kept a promise, it helped His children trust that He would be faithful to His promise to send Jesus to rescue them from their sins.
Ask: What do you think it felt like for God’s people to wait for the promised Rescuer to come?
Some days, God’s children waited patiently. Some days, they waited with tears and frustration.
Some days, they wondered if God had forgotten His promise. But God continued to whisper it over and over again as His children waited. And one day, when no one was expecting it, Jesus would come.