Crossroads: The Candle of Bethlehem/Peace

Luke 1:26-38

Ceramic figures of Mary and Joseph (Wikimedia Commons, Tomas Castelazo).

Ceramic figures of Mary and Joseph (Wikimedia Commons, Tomas Castelazo).

Welcome to the second week of Advent! Advent is a time of preparation, when we wait and prepare for the Christ child. Each week, you will light a new candle as we recognize the things that Christ brings to this world: hope, peace, joy, and love. Advent is a time of waiting and anticipation, for at the end of Advent we celebrate Christmas and the Christ child. For children, the waiting feels like an eternity. Each devotion during this Advent season explores what each group was waiting for. Last week we learned about the prophets who were waiting for something they’d never see (the Messiah). This week, our focus lies on Mary and Joseph, a couple who were waiting for the changes that come with a big transition: a new baby.

The Candle of Bethlehem/Peace

Light two purple candles. After you light them, say: “This is the second week of Advent. Today we light the candle of hope from last week, as well as the Bethlehem candle or candle of peace. These candles remind us of the hope that Jesus brings as well as the peace that God brings. The Bethlehem candle reminds us of the waiting that Mary and Joseph did as they prepared for the arrival of Jesus.”

Read Luke 1:26-38. From the NIV: In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.” “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.” “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her.

Mary and Joseph waited for a miracle to happen for nine months. They knew that Jesus, the Son of God, would change their whole lives. And so they waited with anticipation for Jesus’ birth. There are things we wait for that change our whole lives: perhaps it is a move to a different state, the birth of a sibling, or waiting to go to college. These are things we look forward to, but at the same time make us nervous. In moving to another state, we wonder if we will make new friends, if our new school will have a sport team we can join, and if we will like our new home. With the birth of a sibling, we worry if we’ll actually like him or her. As I waited for my sister to be born when I was seven, I told my mom that the baby had better be a girl because I was going to put a baby brother in the clothes hamper. I had prayed for a sister, and that’s what I was looking forward to. Any time a big change happens, we wait with excitement, but also with anxiety.

Mary and Joseph must’ve been the same way. Here they were, a young engaged couple, when all of a sudden an angel appears to tell Mary that she would be the mother of the Son of God. How excited they must’ve been to meet Jesus! And yet how anxious they must’ve been that they were going to be his parents. Can you imagine trying to parent the Son of God? As Mary and Joseph prepared for Jesus, we too prepare to celebrate Jesus’ birthday. We prepare for the time when we remember how Jesus came into the messiness of this world to show everyone how great God’s love is.

Jesus also came to bring us peace. We look around our world and things are not peaceful. But God gives us peace that we cannot understand, a peace that we feel deep within us. When we feel anxious about changes that are happening, we can pray for peace. And the God who knows us and who redeems us will also calm our nerves and anxiety and give us God’s peace.

Discussion

Talk about changes that you and your family have gone through over the years: what was it like waiting for the change to happen? How did you prepare?

Prayer

Thank God for time to prepare for the celebration of Jesus’ birth. Ask God to show you how you can help others who are going through big changes.

Jessica Asbell is currently serving as the Minister to Children at First Baptist Church of Roswell, GA. She has worked with children in various capacities at several churches, including Winter Park Baptist in Wilmington, NC, First Baptist of Decatur, GA, and Highland Hills Baptist in Macon, GA. She has a Master of Divinity from McAfee School of Theology and a BBA from Mercer University. In her spare time she loves to read, watch movies, and of course spend time with her sweet kitty, Lucy.

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