North County Outreach Initiative
HOLY FAMILY CATECHESIS
An Advent Tradition
Two thousand years ago in Bethlehem, the world received a very important gift. God the Father sent His Son, Jesus to earth to be with us and to show us the way to live in His Heavenly Kingdom. Every year, dedicated Christians, prepare their hearts to receive Christ’s coming from about December 1-25. This season is called Advent.
Advent comes from the Latin adventus meaning “coming.” The Greek word for Advent is Parousia which means “presence”. Here are several ways to experience “the coming presence” of Christ:
1. Before the first Christmas, the saints of old anticipated the coming of Christ with great expectation.
2. We experience the coming of Christ into our hearts as we believe and receive God into our whole life.
3. We experience the Presence and Empowerment of Christ when we hear His words to His disciples and receive Him in Holy Communion with God’s family,
4. We look forward to the final coming of Jesus, in person, to gather His saints as promised in His Word (Parousia).
The Advent Wreath and Candles (first started in about the 16th century) help us to remember some very important points about our faith.
The green wreath symbolizes the promise of eternal life through Christ.
The four candles represent the four Sundays in Advent.
The royal color purple or blue helps us to remember that God is restoring us and preparing us to experience life in His Kingdom even now as we await His Final Coming with Hope, Peace, Joy and His LOVE.
The pink candle reminds us of the joy of anticipation experienced with the arrival of the Christ child that first Christmas. We experience the same JOY that John the Baptist felt when he leapt in his mother’s womb, as we yield more and more to God’s reign in our lives.
A fifth candle, generally white and placed in the center of the wreath is the Christ candle and is lit on Christmas Eve in honor of His birth, and His reign in our lives
Advent can be a wonderful time of experiencing the Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love of that First Christmas as we recognize that true gift of Jesus as Immanuel, God with us, and as we live and share God’s love and kindness with others this Christmas.
PRAYER for GOD'S BLESSING ON THE WREATH
O God, by whose word all things are made holy; we offer to you this Advent Wreath which we ask you to bless; help us to use it to prepare our hearts for the great Coming of your Son, and help us to receive Him into our hearts with joy; through the same Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
We invite you to gather for Advent devotions at least once a week with friends or family. Light the candle or candles for the week. Read God’s Word from your Bible and the Prayer for each week. Share what touches your heart from the readings and prayers. Pray for one another as the Lord leads you. Extinguish the candle(s) as you carry His light in your hearts throughout the day.
Third Sunday of Advent: Shepherds’ Candle of JOY
Week of December 13, 2020
Read: Isaiah 65:17-18: “I will create new heavens and a new earth. The things that have happened before will not be remembered. They will not even enter your minds. 18 So be glad and full of JOY forever because of what I will create.
On the third Sunday of Advent we remember the shepherds near Bethlehem living in the fields, guarding their sheep at night. At first they were afraid when an angel suddenly stood before them, making the field around them very bright. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid! Look! I bring good news to you, wonderful, joyous news for all people. Today in Bethlehem, your savior, Christ the Lord, has been born. If you go to Bethlehem, you will find a newborn baby wrapped snugly and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great number of angels were praising God. They said, “Glory to God in the heaven, and on earth peace. The shepherds were filled with JOY when they heard the news.
We also live in the JOY that God brought that first Christmas, knowing that He will come again and bring new heavens and a new earth. We willingly ask Jesus to live in our hearts to guide us with His grace and wisdom every day to be “the- best-version-of-ourselves” now and forever.
Today we light the third Advent Candle, the candle of JOY. This third candle is pink to remind us of the great joy the shepherds felt when the angels sang to them about Jesus.
Reflection: Try to imagine the joy the shepherds felt being with all of those angels and hearing the news about the birth of Jesus their savior. If you were one of these shepherds, would you ever forget the joy of this experience? Would you continue to share about the good news from the angels?
Let’s pray: God Almighty, help us to remember with joy, the wonderful way that the angels announced the good news of Jesus to the shepherds. May we also share the good news of the resurrected Jesus with the joy others can see in our own lives. In Jesus’ Name we pray, Amen