Celebrating Advent: Staying Focused on Jesus
Article by Shannon Hampshire
Do you ever feel like the holidays are just too busy? Like there are too many distractions to make the holidays meaningful for you and your family? How do we make sure that our kids understand that Jesus is the reason for the season, and that it's not all about gifts or even just time with family?
I love the Christmas season, and all of the things that come with it. I love the decorations, and the lights, and the special gatherings with family and friends, and even buying gifts and seeing them wrapped under the tree. It's full of fun and excitement and anticipation! But oftentimes, I need a reminder that everything points to Jesus during this season. I want to make sure I'm pointing my daughter to Jesus throughout this season, and throughout the year.
This year, a word keeps coming to mind - Advent. To be honest, I wasn’t sure what it meant. I hear the word and I think of an advent calendar with numbers from 1-25 counting down the days until Christmas. Maybe you punch a hole and get a piece of candy every day, or a little trinket. On the last day, you get to open all the presents under the tree because it's Christmas morning.
So, what is Advent? The word advent comes from the Latin adventus which means "coming" or "arrival." For Christians, it is the time of year when we specifically look to the coming of Jesus Christ, first in his coming to bring our salvation (Christmas) but also to his second coming when he returns to reign in glory. It is a season of anticipation, but not just for presents. We are anticipating the return of Jesus! I love this connection that we can make for our children, as well as for ourselves. What are we really anticipating, and how does it change our perspective in this life?
The Advent season begins four Sundays before Christmas day. This year, that is December 2. The purpose is to spend the four weeks leading up to Christmas meditating on and expecting Christ's coming. Doesn't that sound like a great way to keep the right focus during the holiday season? LifeWay Women is offering an Advent Reading Plan that can be emailed to you each week. You can sign up by submitting your email address at this link: https://blog.lifeway.com/womenallaccess/2018/11/02/2018-advent-reading-plan-sign-up/#gf_13. Each Friday during Advent, you'll receive a Scripture reading plan, ideas for prayer, fun printables and more tools to use to keep you and your family focused on Christ.
There are some traditions and symbols of Advent that have been used for centuries. According to Yvonne Pratt at the StoneGable blog (What is Advent?, stonegableblog.com):
The primary symbol of Advent is the Advent wreath. Ancient northern Europeans would light candles on a circle of greens in the dead of dark winter to symbolize ongoing life. The lit candles were a reminder of spring and the coming of lighter days ahead. By the 16th century, Christians had adopted this wreath and used it as a symbol much as we do today. There are four candles on the advent wreath: three purple and one pink. The purple candles, that are lit on weeks one, two and four, symbolize hope, peace, and love. The pink candle, lit on week three, symbolizes joy. Each week as Christians prepare for the coming of Christmas, they ponder on and pray for hope, peace, joy, and love! There are many modern adaptations of the Advent wreath, but they primarily symbolize the same thing. Sometimes a large candle is lit in the center of the wreath to symbolize the birth of Christ, the Light of the world!
I love incorporating a Scripture reading plan along with the lighting of a candle each Sunday that represents hope, peace, joy and love. We can keep our focus on Jesus throughout the season, while still enjoying all the fun and excitement, by investing time in God's Word, celebrating Jesus' birth and creating anticipation for Jesus' second coming!
Shannon is married to Mike, and they have a beautiful 4 year old daughter, Delaney. Shannon leads a Young Women's Bible study in her home and has enjoyed editing the Women's Ministry newsletter for the past 5 years.
Connect Through Fellowship
Our next Hearts and Homes will be Saturday, December 15, from 10 AM to Noon at the home of Kaylie Abney, 7225 Oakburn Drive, 40258.
Hearts and Homes is a time where women in all seasons of life gather to share life and a meal together. Each lady brings her favorite finger food, appetizer or dessert and the hostess opens her home and provides drinks and paper products. We spend time in sweet fellowship and have a short devotion and prayer. If you are interested in hosting Hearts and Homes, contact Shannon Hampshire or Vickie Keene. You choose the day and time that best fits your schedule and we'll send out the invitation.
Connect to God in Prayer
Our Women's Prayer Group will not meet during the month of December. We invite you to join us at the Women's Christmas Luncheon on Saturday, December 8.
Women of all ages and seasons are invited to join us next month on the 2nd Saturday of January, at 10 AM in Room 204 as we meet for our monthly prayer meeting.
Connect Through Study
Living Life Together is so important because others help us fulfill our purpose, grow in our faith, and serve others every day.
IN HOME LIFE GROUPS In Home Life Groups provide the best opportunity for relationships. ON CAMPUS LIFE GROUPS On Campus Groups are most convenient for individuals not available to meet during the week. Discover which group is right for you at vvchurch.org/lifegroups .
Fit for My King
All ladies are invited to join our Fit For My King Ministry led by Karen Rice. We are a free, faith-based ministry that seeks to honor God by taking care of our bodies (His temple). Our focus is on renewing our minds, bodies, and spirits. Fit For My King is a motivational tool for physical and spiritual fitness. Now would be a great time to join us as we just started a new book called Reshaping It All by Candace Cameron Bure that we will use for our devotional time. We are an ongoing ministry that meets every Tuesday at 10:00am in the large Kids Zone room at the end of the elementary hall. If you are ready to obtain greater health God's way, this is the place for YOU!!
Women's Christmas Luncheon
Ladies, we invite you to join us on Saturday, December 8, at 11 am for our annual Women's Christmas Luncheon. Our guest speaker is Brittany Schmuckie, a member of our worship team. Don't miss this special time of celebration as Brittany answers the question, "Can God Use Me?" Tickets can be purchased now through December 2 for $10 in the church office (M-F), church lobby or online at vvchurch.org/womenschristmasevent.
At the luncheon, we will be collecting non-perishable food items for needy families whose children attend Olmsted Academy North. Contact Vickie Keene at email@example.com if you have any questions.