When you think of Advent (the four Sundays preceding Christmas), what is the first thing you think about? Do you think about the Advent wreath and candles at your church? Do you think about the story of Jesus’ birth? Maybe you think about Christmas songs? It’s quite possible you think about everything you must get done before Christmas (no judgement from us, we promise). Most likely, you think about all these things.
I’m not going to lie… my first thought of Advent makes me think of the time period I call, “Merry Chaosmas.” Please don’t judge! We all know Christmastime can be VERY chaotic. But, over the last few years, my thoughts have thankfully turned to, “How can I spend this time really celebrating our Savior’s birth?” One way I do this is by breaking out my favorite Christmas carols and songs – and no, I don’t mean Jingle Bells. I mean the ones that are so rich and truthful that your heart immediately thinks, “Jesus.”
In truth, the Advent season (the four Sundays preceding Christmas) is based upon four pillars: Hope, Joy, Peace, and Love. If we think of these words beyond the holiday “stuff,” we quickly realize these four words represent Jesus himself – He is hope, joy, peace, and love. By breaking out the theologically-sound Christmas carols and songs, we begin to worship Him during a time when that’s really all we should be doing.
So, how we can we take these words and worship our way through Advent? Easy! Let’s make it simple… focus on one these four words and songs each week, and let God do the rest. He will meet us right where we are.
- HOPE – God’s promise of a Child King gave His children hope. (Isa. 9:2-7)
Over the past several years, Lifeway has released several Advent Bible Studies. These Bible Studies are a great way to dive deeper into understanding just how much the Christmas story gives us HOPE. From the start of Advent until Christmas day, there is an anticipation that fills the air around us. “O Holy Night!”1 is just one carol that reminds us of hope. This Christmas let’s remember the hope He promises!
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn'
Fall on your knees, o hear the angels' voices
O night divine, o night when Christ was born
O night divine, o night, o night divine
2. JOY – True joy is found through a connection to Jesus. (John 15:1-11)
What brings you joy? To be sure, the holidays can be filled with both joy and sorrow. But, according to the Bible and Tara-Leigh Cobble (author or The Bible Recap), “He’s where the joy is.” We won’t find true joy in Christmas presents, but if we choose to set our eyes upon our Savior, the One who is joy, we will find joy. One of the most well-known Christmas carols “Joy to the World, the Lord Is Come” is filled with reminders of the joy God sent us. This Christmas let’s find our joy in the One who is joy!
Joy to the World, the Lord is come… Joy to the Earth, the Savior reigns…
3. PEACE – And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:7)
Ahhh… Merry Chaosmas and peace aren’t exactly best friends. I know we all prefer peace over chaos. The great news… Jesus brings all the peace we can ever need. As the hymn “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” states, Jesus is the King of Peace – and will calm the craziness of whatever we need calming. This Christmas let’s allow God to give us the peace He wants us to have.
O come, O King of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind
Bid all our sad divisions cease
And be yourself our King of Pease
4. LOVE – The love of Jesus changes lives. (Luke 7:36-50)
Ultimately, Christmas is 1000% about love. Jesus was sent to us from love. Jesus is love. Throughout Advent, we need to show our love as much as we possibly can in whatever ways we can. As the song “Silent Night, Holy Night” reminds us, the Son of God is love’s pure light. This Christmas let’s be the light in someone else’s darkness.
Silent night, holy night!
Son of God, love's pure light.
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus Lord, at Thy birth
Jesus Lord, at Thy birth
And lastly, think of your favorite Christmas Carol/Song. Go ahead and listen to it on repeat. Sing it as loud and as many times as you would like. I’m certain the Lord never tires of hearing you sing about the birth of His Son!