Family Advent Devotionals – Week 1 – Joy

Welcome to this Family Devotional for Advent. The season of Advent is a time of preparation for the birth of Jesus Christ. As families, it is a time to grow together in our understanding of the greatest gift of all: Jesus Christ!

First, you are encouraged to buy an advent wreath. This is something to be actively used as you countdown to Jesus’ birthday. This is a great visual for our children. We like to put our advent wreath on the kitchen table and light the candles over dinner and sometimes breakfast. Our family loves that this is the centerpiece of our table during Advent and it helps us keep Jesus at the center of things.

For each week of Advent you can choose to do some or all of the activities as you feel led and have time for in your family schedule.

Our Suggested Weekly Plan does not involve activities each night. The idea is to make these devotionals doable and help families and not burden them with already busy weeknights. The devotionals are designed so families can accommodate their weeks by choosing to do what works for them. For example, a family with a lot of time one night could combine scripture reading with a game. While on another night when time is short they might choose a quick activity.

Word focus – Each candle represents a word

Joy – purple candle (we usually light one of the purples next to the pink candle to begin)

Peace – purple candle

Hope – purple candle

Love – pink candle

Jesus Christ – Center Candle

(We like to go the traditional route and use 3 purple and 1 pink candle)

Scripture reading – In this devotional we have a reading from the Bible for each candle

Week 1 – Shepherds

Week 2 – Wise Men

Week 3 – Simeon

Week 4 – Mary

Activity, Craft, Game – Each week there will be a variety of activities, games or crafts to help further demonstrate the message of Jesus with discussion and reflection questions as appropriate. You may choose to do all of them or pick one or two.

It is our prayer that this devotional blesses your family and grows you closer to Jesus and strengthens your family bond.

WEEK 1 – JOY

JOY

Joy is directly related to God. It is a firm confidence that all is well regardless of the circumstances. It is a lasting inner peace when we know that the Lord is our source of joy.

Is joy the same as happiness? Happiness is a momentary occurrence. It is favorable circumstances. It involves something that brings us pleasure and makes us glad but it is shallow and fleeting. Often times being happy is associated with happenings.

  • Light the Joy Candle

Our family started a sing song tradition as the candle is being lit to sing the theme word We say “Joy, Joy, Joy.” It reminds us of the focus for the week and while maybe a little silly does bring us together and remind us what our Advent Wreath represents.

We like to light the advent wreath over dinner each night and it burns while we eat. Part of our nightly discussion centers on advent.

QUESTIONS:

1. Are you happy? What makes you happy?

2. Are Joy and Happiness the same thing? (see notes above)

3. Why can God bring us joy? Do you have joy?

(God is Love and that brings joy. God is eternal and that brings peace and  joy. God is our salvation and that brings us joy that we live with him forever.  God is our Creator and that gives us joy.)

  • Scripture Reading (Focus = Shepherds)

Read Luke 2: 1-20

This scripture reading tells of the birth of Jesus and the story of the shepherds and the angels.

QUESTIONS:

1. What do you think the life of a shepherd was like?

(difficult and hard job, not considered a good job, lowly position)

2. Would you have been afraid if the sky filled with angels?

(if would be something no one had ever witnessed before)

3. What message did the angels have for the shepherds?

(Luke 2:10-12)

4. What was the reaction of the Shepherds to the message?

(Luke 2: 15-16)

5. Any thoughts on why the angels appeared to the shepherds and not others?

(Jesus used the lowly and unexpected to spread his message. Perhaps they were willing and open to hear the angels message)

  • The Unopened Gift

Choose a gift from under the tree and pass it around and have each family member try and figure out what is inside without opening it.

QUESTIONS:

1. What would happen if you never opened this gift?

(you would never know what is inside)

2. Would it be of any use?

(no and you would be missing out on the contents)

Jesus offers us a gift – eternal life with Him in heaven. The gift is of no use unless we accept and receive Jesus as our Lord and Savior.

TIP – Do not open this gift. The anticipation of what is inside is a good thing!! Wait and open on Christmas! You can decide to just choose any random gift under your tree or you might want to wrap up something as a family gift which could be a board game or maybe its everyone’s favorite candy or a family favorite movie.

  • Race To The Manger

This game is similar to Hide and Go Seek. Use a doll or a blanket wrapped up on itself to represent the baby Jesus. One family member hides Jesus then everyone else races to find him.

Read Luke 2: 8-20 and have everyone imagine how excited the shepherds must have been.

QUESTIONS:

1. Did the shepherds walk or run to find the baby Jesus?

(run – Luke 2:16)

2. Why were the shepherds so excited to see Jesus? Would you have been excited?

(the Messiah was here to save them and they were excited)

  • Christmas Carols

For this you can choose two options:

1. Have each family member draw their favorite Christmas Carol and let other members guess what it is. You can display these pictures on the refrigerator afterwards.

2. Play charades with each family member choosing a favorite Christmas carol to act out.

QUESTIONS:

1. Luke 8:20 says that shepherds glorified and praised God as they returned to their fields. What hymns or praise songs do you like to sing? Why do you like it?

2. Luke 2:17 says the shepherds told everyone what had happened. Why do you think they were eager to share this news?

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