Advent and Christmas are upon us, beginning this Sunday. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Church Calendar, it might be helpful to think of it as a traditional devotional guide. Many of you follow various Bible reading plans or use devotional guides or attend Bible studies to work through various passages of Scripture. While the church year has sometimes been abused and become a form of slavery (as has private devotions or family worship), in its best sense, the church calendar is just the collected devotional habits of the saints of God for the last 2000 years. We read particular passages of Scripture, sing particular psalms and hymns, and meditate on particular elements of the gospel of Jesus Christ at this time of the year. When done in faith, honestly looking to God, this can be a great blessing.
Of course our culture is gearing up for their version of Christmas already (and it’s pretty cool to live in a place and time where we have the opportunity to lavish such gifts on one another), but we are generous and sacrificial first and foremost because God has come for us in Jesus. So I would encourage you to talk to your families/roommates/parish groups about how you might use the coming weeks to focus your heart and life on your Savior and King. Below are links to several different devotional guides, a new book by Douglas Wilson, as well as some other ideas for celebrating Advent in your homes.
This year, our Advent & Christmas series is Looking for Jesus: Learning to Read the Bible and the World Through New Eyes. As we close this year and begin a new one, we will consider how God wrote the Bible and how He intends us to read it. Over the next seven Sundays, we will answer a particular question each week about the Bible: What is the Bible? Why should we read the Bible? How should we read the Bible? What should we expect to find in the Bible? What does the Bible do? What does the Bible say about the world? What should reading the Bible be like? And each week, we will take a particular theme or symbol and look at how the whole Bible uses that theme or symbol to point us to Jesus: trees, barrenness & exile, lights, gifts & glory, children, rocks & precious metals, and water. This would be a great series to invite friends or neighbors to.
On Advent & the Advent Wreath: http://theresurgence.com/2009/12/03/how-to-celebrate-advent
On the Jesse Tree: http://www.crivoice.org/jesse.html
Devotional Guide from CREC Pastors: http://xa.yimg.com/kq/groups/3926949/1009785440/name/AdventChristmas.pdf
Free Advent Devotional from Desiring God: http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/books/good-news-of-great-joy
New Book by Douglas Wilson: http://www.canonpress.org/store/pc/viewPrd.asp?idproduct=637&idcategory=