Prepare the Way December 6, 2020

Bible Study “Prepare the Way”

Share:  Your highs (something that made you happy) and lows (something that made you sad) this week with others around you or write them down.

 

What Does Advent Mean and Why We Celebrate It

During the Advent season, we remember, and we look forward. In these four weeks, we meditate on Jesus’ sacrifice that brings us to repentance and we anticipate his return. In the busyness of the Christmas season, celebrating Advent provides us a time to focus our hearts on Jesus.

Advent is a word with Latin roots and means “coming.” Christians use this period of time before Christmas to prepare for the celebration of Jesus’ birth. It’s also a time of repentance and meditation while anticipating Jesus’ second coming.

Advent is a season rich in wonder as we focus on the incarnation of God. In Jesus, we have the divine God who left his glory to become the perfect example of a sinless man. He enlightens people and generates in them eternal life for those who believe and receive him in faith.

Why Christians Light Candles for Advent

Jesus is the light of the world and we light Advent candles to signify this. It’s also a way to build anticipation for the celebration of the first coming of Jesus. Beginning on the fourth Sunday before Christmas and each Sunday leading up to Christmas Day, families light a candle and conduct a themed advent reading.

The closer one gets to Christmas, the more the candles get lit, and the brighter it shines. Advent moves us through the prophecies about Christ, to the hope he provides, to the joy he brings, and the love he gives. As we move through each week, the wreath glows brightly with significance. Let's look at the different advent candle colors and their beautiful meaning and symbolism.

The First Sunday of Advent’s Purple Candle Signifies Hope

The first Sunday of Advent leads our hearts to Hope. The purple color symbolizes royalty, repentance, and fasting. This week is a time for us to reflect on what it must have been like to feel the depth of God’s silence during the period between the Old Testament and New.

It is a time to ponder the prophecies about the promised Messiah. We begin the season with a mindset that creates hope in our hearts.

The Second Sunday of Advent’s Purple Candle Signifies Preparation

On the second Sunday of Advent, we light the Hope candle and then we light the Preparation candle/Faith. First, hope blooms as we realize the prophecies about the Messiah are true. Then we begin to prepare our hearts to receive the Lord Jesus.

Imagine how Joseph must have rushed to prepare the crude stable for Mary and the soon-to-be-born Jesus. As we rush through the season of buying gifts and attending parties, may we pause and reflect on the words of Isaiah.

The Third Sunday of Advent’s Pink Candle Signifies Joy

The third Sunday of Advent brings us to Joy. The color pink represents rejoicing/Joy. We light the previous two purple candles and then light this week’s pink one. Rejoicing is our response to the Good News — joy that our Messiah has come.

The light of the world sweeps away the darkness in our world and in our hearts. We seek him and, in joy, find him.

The Fourth Sunday of Advent’s Purple Candle Signifies Love

On the fourth Sunday of Advent, we reach the culmination of Love/Peace. The Messiah comes in love and righteousness. The angels filled the sky with the greatest news of love.

They visited the lowest of the lows in Jewish society, the shepherds, with the most amazing birth announcement. This love is no respecter of persons but is for all who receive. As we light the four candles, we ponder,

Why Some Add a Fifth White Candle

A fifth candle is an optional addition to the traditional advent celebration and represents Christ. This candle is lit on Christmas Eve. The color white stands for purity, light, and victory.

Jesus is pure — without sin and because of his sacrifice he makes us white as snow. He is the light in the darkness and the victor over sin and death. We have life because of him.

 

Today we continue our Advent journey. Advent is a time when we prepare our hearts for the coming of Jesus at Christmas. During Advent, we reflect on the hope, peace, and joy that come with the birth of Christ. We prepare ourselves for the coming of the light that will help bring God’s kingdom to earth.

Light the first (Hope) and second (Faith) candles on your Advent wreath. What season of the church year are we in? Why are we lighting candles on the Advent wreath?

Opening Prayer: Mighty God, you sent prophets to help prepare the way for your coming. Be present with us as we learn more about what they say and do. Amen.

Questions:

How do you prepare yourself when a friend comes to visit you? 

Do you believe God will be with us in all circumstances? 

 

Today’s scripture comes from the book of Isaiah. Many times we associate Isaiah’s prophecies with the coming of the Messiah. In fact, the imagery of Isaiah 40 has inspired the creation of many different artistic and cultural works. However, it’s important for us to remember that these words were written to God’s people long before they knew the Messiah would ever come. Isaiah’s words of comfort and peace were written to God’s people while they were facing the destruction and pain that came from the Babylonian exile.

Please open your Bibles to Isaiah 40:1-11 and read or read the scriptures below. 

Isaiah 40:1-11

Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.
2 Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,

and proclaim to her
that her hard service has been completed,

that her sin has been paid for,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand

double for all her sins.

3 A voice of one calling:
“In the wilderness prepare

the way for the Lord[a];
make straight in the desert

a highway for our God.[b]
4 Every valley shall be raised up,
every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level,

the rugged places a plain.
5 And the glory of the Lord will be revealed,

and all people will see it together.
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

6 A voice says, “Cry out.”
And I said, “What shall I cry?”

“All people are like grass,
and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field.
7 The grass withers and the flowers fall,

because the breath of the Lord blows on them.
Surely the people are grass.
8 The grass withers and the flowers fall,

but the word of our God endures forever.”

9 You who bring good news to Zion,
go up on a high mountain.
You who bring good news to Jerusalem,
[c]
lift up your voice with a shout, lift it up, do not be afraid;
say to the towns of Judah,
“Here is your God!”
10 See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power,
and he rules with a mighty arm.
See, his reward is with him,
and his recompense accompanies him.
11 He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young.

Reflection Questions:

  • Why would Isaiah tell the people of God this lesson? 
  • What does Isaiah mean by saying, “Prepare the way of the Lord?”
  • According to Isaiah, who should the people of God put their trust in? Why do you think Isaiah would tell them this?
  • Who are some of the voices that help you prepare your heart for God’s coming? How do they help you prepare the way for Jesus?  Who is speaking here?

 

Click her for the young learner’s lesson

Videos

Isaiah 40:1-11 drawn by Chris Marks - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x_fi2ZjWvKQ

Overview: Isaiah 40-55 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_TzdEPuqgQg

Activities

Bible Quiz: 

Word Search: https://thewordsearch.com/puzzle/1700934/prepare-the-way/

Painting:   Isaiah 40:3.  Take a sheet of construction paper and some paint and paint a picture that illustrates the verse. Then, while the paint is wet, cover it with sand.

 

Prayer: Loving God, you send your Son to live among us at Christmas. Help us prepare our hearts for his coming. Amen