read to feed the soul
Written by FBJ Women for Women
by: Megan Norris Jones
A Christmas Countdown
I grew up at First Baptist Jackson, and now I have returned. But in between, I lived other places and was a member of other churches. And it was at those other churches that I discovered Advent. I’d never really known what Advent was, but I thought it had something to do with calendars and chocolate and was for Episcopalians or maybe Catholics. Not Baptists, of course, because I had grown up Baptist and didn’t know anything about it.
But then I joined a Baptist church in Birmingham, Alabama, and—lo and behold!—every Sunday from Thanksgiving to Christmas, a different family stood up at the front of the sanctuary and lit a candle on an enormous wreath and prayed for our church, that we might yearn for Christ’s coming both as a baby at Christmas and, one day, as a triumphant king. It was Advent. Then I joined another Baptist church in Knoxville, Tennessee, and they did the same thing. It kept our churches focused, not on the bustle of Christmas shopping, Christmas parties, Christmas food but on Jesus Christ, the author and perfector of our faith. It was a beautiful symbol, and I wanted it to be a part, not just of our churches, but of our home.
Now, each of the four Sundays before Christmas, my husband, children, and I gather around a little wreath, read scripture, sing a carol, and light the candle for the week. Each candle represents a different fruit of the Spirit: hope, love, joy, or peace. The candles aren’t necessary, of course, but the ceremony of the thing helps us to lay aside the concerns of a busy season and focus our hearts, our minds, our souls on Christ. We look forward, not to gifts or to time with family, but to Him. And the amazing thing about Advent is that it isn’t just about Christmas. We look forward to both of Christ’s comings, to the one that happened more than two thousand years ago in Bethlehem and to the one that is yet to come. And when I see my children’s faces, singing carols by candlelight, I know that these are the moments when we pass the flame of faith on to our next generation, that they might join with us in worshipping our Savior and King. It’s this shared worship experience that makes celebrating Advent such a vital part of this holy season. Will you join us for Advent this year?
Revelations 22:20, “He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming quickly.” Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!”
Dear God, We joyfully anticipate your birth at Christmas, just as we joyfully anticipate your return. Come, Lord Jesus! I pray in your name, amen.
Megan Norris Jones
Megan Norris Jones
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Megan Norris Jones lives in Jackson with her husband, Matt, and their three children, a dog, a turtle, fourteen fish, and two hives of bees. The bees make delicious honey. The fish and turtle are very quiet; the dog and children are not.