Advent – Christmas Eve/Day
Scripture Reading, Music, and Candle Lighting
Replace all four candles with white candles and light them and/or light a white candle in the center of the wreath. It is time to celebrate the birth of Christ, the “light of the world”! If you prefer to print the Scripture reading on this page, it is available in our Free Advent Guide.
Read the following section from the gospel of John:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.
“There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God — children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:1-14).
It may also be an appropriate time to discuss the twofold meaning of Advent. Christians celebrate the coming of Jesus into the world over 2,000 years ago but also wait expectantly for his second coming. After giving his last instructions to the apostles, Jesus ascended into heaven. The Bible records, “They [the apostles] were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. ‘Men of Galilee,’ they said, ‘why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven’” (Acts 1:10-11).
Interestingly, the Latin term adventus is the translation of the Greek word parousia, which is often used in reference to the second coming of Christ. Jesus spoke about this coming, or parousia, as follows:
“For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming [advent] of the Son of Man. . . .At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming [advent] on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other. . . . No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming [advent] of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming [advent] of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him” (Matthew 24:27-44).
Clearly, Jesus wants his people to be prepared for his return. Though he came first as a Servant and a Savior, he will come again as a Ruler and a Judge and will establish an eternal kingdom on a new earth. Peter writes, “But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness” (2 Peter 3:13). May believers “eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed” (1 Corinthians 1:7) and be ever ready for his second Advent!
For Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, you can sing this contemporary version by Chris Tomlin of “Joy to the World,” the popular 18th century hymn by Isaac Watts:
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