"Our King and Savior draweth nigh. O come, let us adore him!"
|First purple candle lit|
While the four Advent themes of hope, love, joy, and peace are sometimes recalled in different orders, hope is almost always the theme celebrated on the First Sunday of Advent. As the first candle of an Advent wreath is lit, a family choosing to use this custom as a way of preparing for Christmas can thus use the occasion to remember how the Christmas Story recalls the birth of the Promised King, an event prophesied and hoped for from the time of Adam until that first Christmas.
- “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn . . . ” (Isaiah 61:1–3, emphasis added)
- “For, for this intent have we written these things, that they may know that we knew of Christ, and we had a hope of his glory many hundred years before his coming; and not only we ourselves had a hope of his glory, but also all the holy prophets which were before us. Behold, they believed in Christ and worshiped the Father in his name, and also we worship the Father in his name . . .” (Jacob 4:4–5, emphasis added)
|The first Sunday of Advent is when we set up our Nativity.|
|A plaque with the Benedictus in `En Kerem|
I suggest that after discussing that week's theme families also consider reading each week one of the familiar parts of Luke 1 and Matthew 1 that lead up to the actual birth of Jesus. This helps set the realization of the prophecies of Jesus' birth into the immediate context of their fulfillment, and it also adds to the excitement of the Christmas season as we join Zacharias and Elisabeth and then Mary and Joseph in their experiences.
|On the steps of the Church of John the Baptist at `En Kerem|
|Samuel watching groups of pilgrims at the John the Baptist Church|
- “Therefore Being Justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” (Romans 5:1–5, emphases added)
- “And what is it that ye shall hope for? Behold I say unto you that ye shall have hope through the atonement of Christ and the power of his resurrection, to be raised unto life eternal . . .” (Moroni 7:41, emphasis added)
- “Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping.” (Mark 13:35–36, emphasis added)
- “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16–17)
Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.This is a lovely literary reflection on both the first and the second Advent of Jesus.
Music is an important part of the celebration of Advent as it is of the Christmas season generally. In some traditions only carols especially meant for Advent are sung in the weeks leading up to Christmas, with Christmas carols themselves being reserved for Christmas Eve and the “Twelve Days of Christmas” that begin with Christmas Day. However, families can use any familiar carols for their home celebrations, though our family always opens our Christmas season by singing “O Come, O Come Emmanuel,” which is the traditional carol for the beginning of Advent. The original Latin text dates back as early as the reign of Charlemagne (771–814). The English text and the tune that is now familiar were not published until 1854, though the melody seems to have been based on an earlier French original.
O come, O come, Emmanuel,And ransom captive Israel,That mourns in lonely exile hereUntil the Son of God appears.Rejoice! Rejoice!Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, freeThine own from Satan’s tyranny.From depths of hell thy people save,And give them vict’ry o’er the grave.ChorusO come, O Day-spring, come and cheerOur spirits by thine advent here,And drive away the shades of night,And pierce the clouds and bring us light.ChorusO come, O come, Thou Lord of mightWho to thy tribes, on Sinai’s heightIn ancient times did’st give the lawIn cloud and majesty and awe.Chorus