Today for the first time in as long as I can remember, our family stayed home on Sunday morning and didn’t go to church. There was a lot of ice on our cars, and although the roads were clear it seemed right to stay home. We had a wonderful morning together and decided later we’d have a family church service together. We have shared short family devotionals together previously, especially before Christmas during the Advent season, but it is not (unfortunately) something we have done often. Tonight’s family church service, then, was particularly meaningful and special. I’d hoped it would be a time when everyone could participate: sharing, singing, praying, and reading from God’s Word. It was.
We used our AppleTV to project the lyrics to “The First Noel,” which we opened with, and these words from the Old Testament prophet, Isaiah:
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as warriors rejoice when dividing the plunder. For as in the day of Midianâ€™s defeat, you have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor. Every warriorâ€™s boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on Davidâ€™s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this. (Isaiah 9:2-7 NIV)
We used this description of the four candles of advent (though it differs slightly from our church tradition) and read a meditation from “God Is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.