Today is the first day of Advent in the Christmas seasons of 2006. The first day to take our assembled wreath or, in my case, advent log, to their designated place and light the first of the candles.
We are celebrating Christ coming to earth, the one Who is First and Last, the one who is the firstborn of many Sons, the firstborn from the dead, the first in the pathway we are called to follow. He is our promise that God intended our firsts in life to be full of expectation and hope.
So many times we start out full of hope, only to be disappointed, or to have our experience of “firsts” marred, but Jesus Christ came for just such things. At the very beginning we were insured of a good outcome through His arrival upon the earth, but we don’t know of that until we have our first prayer to invite Him into our lives. Today, being the first day of the rest of our lives, would we invite Jesus into the room of our hearts? Will we invite Him into the first place in our home? Will we give Him this first day of the Advent season, to think about His love for us, and how He is first in all of Heaven, and yet made room for us, time for us, at great expense to Himself and Heaven?
When Jesus came to earth, Heaven was emptied of its richest and most beautiful…. and at first earth did not recognize it. That is the nature of firsts…. they are not always valued for the very important thing that they are. But God intends to change that.
Will we let God be first, through giving Jesus Christ His place in in our lives? He promises it will be the start of everything that is wonderful and lasting, it will be the end of our fear of death and the beginning of our expectation of life.
So as we light the first candle, giving it first small light into the darkness, let us consider our firsts. And consider God’s firsts.
The story of our first Advent log
When our family was young and our children were small, I had visited the Christian bookstore looking for Advent celebration ideas. I bought a few slim idea books, nothing more than magazines, really. Within one of them the idea of making a log with candles for each day of advent caught my imagination.
We cut down a young mulberry tree that was growing along the fenceline, my husband stabilized it by shaving off enough to make it sit on a flat surface, and drilling holes for the amount of candles that would be needed. At first that was twenty four, but as the years have gone by we shortened the log to about twenty. The candles are placed in their holes; sometimes they have to be shaved to fit, sometimes we need a little florists clay to fit them in snugly, but they are all aligned in a straight row for the first day of advent.
The manner of lighting is to light alternative ends of the candles in the log – first the far right, then the far left, etc. The first day only one candle, the second, two, the third three…etc. until all are alight on Christmas day. During the time of the devotional we have done many different activities, but the universal one is to start with singing some carols, and having a portion of Christmas related scripture reading. We end by singing ‘Silent Night, Holy Night’ while the child, whose turn it is, snuffs the candles with a silver candle snuffer. Sometimes we tried a structured event, many times we just ad-libbed.
It is something the children have all grown to look forward to, even in times when hectic schedules mean that we must light two or more candles due to missing a devotion or two. The important thing is to spend as much time possible centered around the beauty of Christ and the joy of His coming.
Visitors are always invited to join in, and invariably they love the experience. It has been one of the most lovely and rewarding things we have enjoyed as a Christmas Tradition…. I think because Christ Himself is the secret ingredient within those times. His presence gives a lasting light.