by Rev. Steven B. Borst
Ilustration © iStockphoto.com
Advent is possibly the most misunderstood season in the church year. Let’s face it: we tend to take our cues on how to prepare for Christmas more from Macy’s than from the manger. Could it be that the Church has largely forgotten the purpose of Advent? Most of us don’t know why we use purple, blue, and even pink for Advent instead of red and green.
Surprisingly, Advent for the early church was a season to anticipate Epiphany, not Christmas. Wise men came to make tribute to King Jesus, and thus the color of royalty (purple) was used for this season. Purple also had a second significant meaning: it is the color of repentance and fasting. It is a reminder that He who came as an infant is coming again in an instant to judge both the living and the dead. Advent, therefore, is a time to both deck the halls and inspect our hearts.
The word advent means “coming,” and it is our coming King who teaches us to pray, “Thy kingdom come.” This year, take your cue from Christ on how to observe this blessed Adventide. As you light each candle on your Advent wreath, take time to study and pray.
Week 1: King Jesus, Come to Me
Verse: “O Lord, how shall I meet
You, How welcome You aright?
Your people long to greet You,
My hope, my heart’s delight!
O kindle, Lord most holy, Your
lamp within my breast,
To do in spirit lowly, All that may
please You best.” (LSB 334:1)
Text: Romans 13:8–14
1. Why are we told to “wake up”?
2. How does verse 10 summarize the commandments?
3. No one has kept the commands listed here. What solution is given in verse 14?
Light: As you light this week’s candle, consider how Christ brings light to your darkness.
Week 2: King Jesus, Come to Many
Verse: “The One whom angels
tended Comes near, a child, to serve;
Thus God, the judge offended,
Bears all our sins deserve.
The guilty need not cower, For God
Through His redemptive power, All
those who trust this child.” (LSB 337:2)
Text: Romans 15:4–13
1. What does verse 8 tell us about Jesus’ life? What Old Testament connection is made?
2. In what ways do verses 9–12 include Gentiles in God’s kingdom?
Light: As you light this week’s candle, describe one way that your family can share Jesus during Advent with someone outside the Church.
Week 3: King Jesus, Come Quickly
Verse: “Lo! He comes with clouds
descending, Once for every sinner slain;
Thousand, thousand saints attending
Swell the triumph of His train:
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia! Christ the
Lord returns to reign.” (LSB 336:1)
Text: James 5:7–11
1. What is the message of verses 7–8? What does it mean to “establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord”?
2. The early church spoke a one-word prayer: “Maranatha!” which means, “Come quickly!” As we suffer and wait for our redemption, what encouragements do verses 10–11 give?
Light: This week’s candle is pink. It is a reminder to us that our fasting will soon be over and that an eternal feast of victory will soon begin!
Week 4: King Jesus Came to Save
Verse: “The everlasting Son
Incarnate deigns to be,
Himself a servant’s form puts on
To set His servants free.” (LSB 331:2)
Text: Matthew 1:18–25
1. Joseph is not the child’s birth father, and, therefore, the little one will not bear his name. Why is the name Jesus given instead?
2. In verse 23, the child is also given a nickname. How do Joseph’s actions take that nickname to heart? How will this guide your own actions?
Light: Take a moment for silent confession. Then, as you light the last candle, speak these words aloud: Christ Jesus has saved me from my sin!
About the author: Rev. Steven B. Borst is senior pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church and School, Riverside, Calif.