The King is Coming!
Get or make an Advent wreath to set on your dining room table. Advent wreath candle holders are available on-line or at your local Christian bookstore. Check out Christian Book Distributors website at their website for a page loaded with Advent wreath stuff. Type in “advent wreath” and you’ll be surprised at all the nice Christian stuff, at low (non-budget busting) prices.
You can also purchase (or make) a regular evergreen wreath--I'd get a small one--and lay that on your table, then insert four candle-holders evenly spaced around the perimeter. That will smell very nice as you sit down to dinner each evening, too!
You’ll need four candles for the four weeks of Advent. These are usually available at your local department store, although I've had trouble finding "purple" candles some years.
Be sure to lay in a supply of matches or have a candle-lighter handy. And we like to use a snuffer for putting the candles out (this prevents wax from being blown when exuberant candle-blower-outers are too vigorous!
Take turns lighting and snuffing the candles, if that's fun for your family. Children especially will get into the spirit of this if you give them an integral part of the duties.
Traditionally each week of Advent focuses on a different part of the Christmas narrative found in the New Testament books of Matthew and Luke, as well as passages from the Old Testament--written hundreds or even thousands of years before Jesus was born.
Week One is the Prophecy Candle* (locate Old Testament [OT] prophecies about Jesus; check out Joel, Micah, Isaiah, etc.). Week One begins on the Sunday right after Thanksgiving.
Week Two is the Bethlehem Candle (King David grew up in Bethlehem, Joseph & Mary’s lineage was through David, too).
Week Three is the pink Angel Candle (angel appearances are always associated with the promise of the Gospel [even in the OT!]; make a list of angelic appearances in the Old and New Testament).
Week Four is the Shepherds’ Candle (many Bible references about shepherds including King David as well as Jesus referring to himself as the “Good Shepherd,” too).
The first week only one candle is lit; the second week you add the next candle, and so on. By the fourth week, all four candles are lit. And it looks neat because they’re graduated in height by the end of the Advent season (Dec 24).
*Alternately, I’ve seen different “meanings” applied to the weeks of Advent instead of the ones I’ve just listed. Find Bible readings to go with them (using your concordance to locate passages): Repent, Restore, Ready/Readiness, and Rejoice!
On Christmas Day set a "Christ" candle in the center of the wreath and read the Christmas story (see below).
Purple and rose/pink are the traditional colors used for centuries by the Christian church. But if you’re young and hip to the home décor scene, use royal blue candles instead---this is the “contemporary” color being used in churches in recent years.
We’ve used purple and pink for years, and have also had all red tapers other years or all green ones. This year, we're using olive green. One year I used gold because I had some from a friend's wedding. The Advent police didn’t care!
The Christ Candle--set out on Christmas Day--is usually white, but again, this is really up to your family. I've seen silver used, and it looks very pretty with royal blue candles, too.
Tapers are nice if you like to see the graduated heights at the end of the month. Pillars, votives and even tea-lights are nice too, but I prefer the tapers for the visual impact, plus that's the size that works in our Advent wreathsssss.
Yes, that's right...we have more than one Advent wreath! We have one on our dining room table and another one set up (some years) on a table in the living room.
Readings for Advent
All four Gospels [Matthew, Mark, Luke, John] in the New Testament have a part of the whole story (look in chapters 1 and 2). Matthew’s version is recounted more from Joseph’s point-of-view, while Luke tells more of the details from Mary’s perspective. Mark’s and John’s readings are very figurative. John’s especially is very poetic, which also will lead you to want to re-read the first few verses of Genesis 1, too!
Don’t skip over the genealogies in Matthew (ch. 1) and Luke (ch. 3); do your best with the names, don’t belabor them! Note the different and similar ways these two writers trace Jesus’ ancestry. Matthew follows Joseph’s line which is “royal” through Solomon back to Abraham; Luke records Mary’s line through David’s other son, Nathan, back to Adam the son of God.