All the Baubles of Advent . . . The Remembrances of Christmas
I’ll be honest. I’m a little obsessive compulsive. When I tell people about my Christmas ornaments there are usually either giggles or stares of disbelief. It’s not because I tell them I could never have a themed tree or something all in one color because I have too many ornaments with memories. I can’t imagine not hanging them all up every year. Those looks don’t even come when I tell them I say a pray over each ornament as I put it on and take it off the tree. I know where each one came from, and I pray for the person or family who gave it to me.
No, the giggles and stares start when I tell folks I have a spreadsheet that catalogues every ornament, the year I got it, the person who gave it to me and what category it falls in. For instance I know that I have 240 ornaments and sixteen of them are snowmen. I started keeping track when my kids were little so I could give them a list of their ornaments when they moved out. (They each had between 60-120 ornaments of their own when they married. Our tree was really full for a few years!) And I love the memories my spreadsheet helps me keep.
But my favorite thing about the ornaments is the way they can keep me focused on the truth of the season if I let them. Each one will point to Christ, His birth, His life, His death and His resurrection.
This year I’m hoping these Advent Readings will help you see Christ in every decoration of Christmas. I pray everything you see will inspire you to praise your Heavenly Father and allow the Holy Spirit to bring true peace. May every Bauble and Bulb help you to remember all the beauty that came with the Birth of Jesus Christ.
What's with the Advent Candles?
This year (unlike any I've previously written) we're going to use the theme of the traditional candles of Advent. Since the whole season is completely made up by humans to help us focus on Christ, I've never felt compelled to stick with tradition, but this year I did!
So the candles will be called:
The Candle of Prophecy aka The Candle of Hope
The Candle of Bethlehem aka The Candle of Love
The Shepherds' Candle aka The Candle of Joy
The Angels' Candle aka The Candle of Peace
The candles can be any color you choose - our church will use red this year, and traditionally most use three purple and a pink (light the pink one during the Third Week of Advent). Each light reminds us that Jesus is the light in our dark world
A white candle in the center will be called the Christ Candle. We light it on Christmas Eve. Our church keeps this candle out through Pentecost!
But even if you don't use candles, you can read the scripture and the meditation that goes with it to help your soul find rest during this hectic season.
The First Week of Advent
The Prophets' Candle
On the first Sunday of Advent we passed out ornaments. Everyone got a snowflake. Hopefully, this simple ornament will remind them of two things:
1. The purity of Jesus Christ - Then a shoot will grow from the stump of Jesse . . .
He will not judge
by what He sees with His eyes,. . .
Righteousness will be a belt around His loins;
faithfulness will be a belt around His waist. (Isaiah 11)
2. If God would design a snowflake with such intricacy and precision, even though it will melt at the first hint of sun, just imagine how much more unique and tremendous He created you!
The First Sunday in Advent
A Time of Remembrance
20 . . . Joshua set up at Gilgal the twelve stones they had taken out of the Jordan. 21 He said to the Israelites, “In the future when your descendants ask their parents, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 22 tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ 23 For the Lord your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The Lord your God did to the Jordan what he had done to the Red Sea when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over.
Remembrances all around . . . Tassels on clothing as a reminder of the commandments, feasts and festivals to celebrate God’s provisions and deliverance, the Ark of the Covenant so no one would forget God was always with them and these rocks in Gilgal, reminder stones of the second time their Heavenly Father brought them through high water on dry ground.
You might wonder what all these things have to do with Advent and Christmas. You see, they set precedence for our celebration. Even Jesus said, “Do this in remembrance . . .” when He broke the bread and blessed the wine before His crucifixion.
Christ knew we humans are forgetful.
We don’t mean to be. We’d like to always remember the goodness of God. But life gets in the way, the enemy creates havoc and we begin to trust in what we can see. We need the remembrances to keep us focused on the One who created us, loves us, came to earth for us, lived for us and died for us.
And that’s why we celebrate Advent and Christmas. They are meant to be reminders of the beautiful gift our Deliverer gave when He came to earth. Each bauble, every trinket, the decorations, the gifts, the gatherings, the celebration, even the candles of Advent are all there to help us remember the great sacrifice of the Trinity.
So this season we’re going to look at all of the glitz and the glitter. Not to make it the focal point but to invite the bling and the beauty to draw our attention back to One who gives us reason to celebrate.
 Numbers 15:39
The Second Week of Advent
The Bethlehem Candle
The Second Sunday of Advent
The Small Town with Great Fame
Bethlehem Ephrathah, you are small among the clans of Judah;
One will come from you to be ruler over Israel for Me.
His origin is from antiquity, from eternity.
Most people have never read more than these few words from the book of Micah. It’s one of the least noticed books in the Bible, and the prophet was from one of the smallest towns in Israel, not much larger than Bethlehem. This short verse is the most famous of his prophecy.
Do you have a very small ornament on your tree? I do. I have one that’s not even a ½” tall. And a few others that are only a bit bigger. These seemingly insignificant ornaments remind me of Bethlehem. And they remind me that even what I view as my most insignificant act can be beautiful and important to Jesus Christ.
Bethlehem is a wonderful reminder that no gift we give this season will be too small. One year a close relative was out of work but wanted to buy gifts. When I mentioned getting the girls markers and plain drawing pads for Christmas, in his eyes it seemed like a lame gift. But when folks asked the girls later about what they got for Christmas, that simple act of love was on the top of the list.
As you shop this year, don’t ignore the Bethlehem gifts. Let each one remind you that God doesn’t give much credence to what we think is big and beautiful. He seems to appreciate the small and simple.
As you watch two tiny lights burn on your candles this week, may Bethlehem and your small ornaments be a constant reminder that in God’s mind you are vital to His plans and important to His Kingdom.
The Third Week of Advent
The Shepherd's Candle
The Third Sunday of Advent
Jesus’ First Visitors
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them and . . . said to them, “. . . a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah. . . 15 When the angels had left them, the shepherds . . .
16 hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby . . . 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen.
We take the shepherds’ story for granted. Because we’ve heard the story so many times, it seems perfectly reasonable that God would tell shepherds about the birth of Christ before anyone else. But I’m pretty certain that the folks in the first century would have been skeptical about Christ really being the Son of God after Luke published Mary’s story.
Shepherds in Jesus’ day would have been like today’s garbage collectors or the folks who clean the sewers. It’s a perfectly respectable job, and everyone is glad someone is doing it, but the elite don’t usually brush elbows with those guys. So it might have been difficult to convince the well to do that God invited shepherds to see His Son before He invited kings.
The shepherds are an integral part of every Nativity Scene because they remind us the Messiah came for everyone. Imagine those shepherds. They may have been in the fields for weeks, and they didn’t take time to stop in at home to change before they found Joseph and Mary. Scripture says they “hurried off.” No bath, no change of clothes, no shave. At best they may have been able to wash up in the creek that watered the sheep.
So often we think we have to clean up before we come to Christ, but the shepherds are our reminder that it’s not necessary. The shepherds were invited to see the Messiah just as they were, and so are we.
Every time you see a shepherd or a Nativity this season be reminded Jesus loves you just as you are. He came to be your Savior. He came to do the cleaning.
The Fourth Week of Advent
The Angels' Candle
The Fourth Sunday of Advent
A Candle of Peace
6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.
This is the end of one of the most famous prophecies in scripture. It’s one of the most read scriptures during Advent. Plus that, you’ll hear it in more than one song this season. And because of these words you’ll sometimes see a dove hanging out as Christmas decorations.
Ornaments, banners and more, all crying peace, feature doves. But when you see those doves do you think of Jesus?
The Angels’ Candle is also known as the Candle of Peace. As we light this final candle and count the few days left till our celebration, ask yourself if you’re life is filled with Peace.
Isaiah told the people of his day that a baby was coming who would be the Prince of Peace. He said there would be no end to this newborn’s peace. When Mary delivered her son, angels told the shepherds that peace would come to all of those who had the infant’s favor.
And we know that baby was Jesus.
When you see those doves this season remember Isaiah’s words, let those white birds remind you of Jesus, your Prince of Peace, the Son whose peace will know no end.