Last Sunday was the first Sunday of Advent, so I got out our wreath and found some candles for it. This is how our family participates in the Advent season: Four Sundays before Christmas, we sit down at the table after dinner to read scriptures and pray. (The scriptures are different from year to year)
1st Sunday (Hope): Light first candle. Read Isaiah 64:1-9; Mk. 13:24-37; 1 Cor. 1:3-9. Pray.
2nd Sunday (Peace): Light first and second candles. Read Is. 40:1-11; Mk. 13:24-37; 1 Cor 1:3-9. Pray.
3rd Sunday (Joy): Light first 3 candles. Read Is. 61:1-4, 8-11; John 1:6-8, 19-28; 1Thess. 5:16-24. Pray.
4th Sunday (Love): Light all four candles. Read 2Sam. 7:1-11, 16;Luke 1:26-38, Rom. 16:25-27. Pray.
Christmas Day: We always do this in the morning after breakfast and before opening our stockings. Light the Christ Candle, symbolising that Jesus is born. Read Micah 4:1-5, 5:2-4; 1John 4:7-16; John 3:26-31. Thank God for sending us Jesus!
There are so many churches with different prayers and scriptures that are traditional for Advent. I was very surprised the first year I did this and found out the scriptures weren't about the birth of Jesus, but about preparing your heart for His coming. It is as if every Christmas is the first Christmas, and Jesus is going to be born in our hearts. Is there any room for him in my inn? Has his place as Master been crowded out? And right now, is He being crowded out by the very things that are supposed to be celebrating His first coming?
Although I am not from the Eastern Church, I read this and really appreciated the message of Christians celebrating Christmas in a way that is distinct from the World. http://www.theologic.com/oflweb/xmas/precele.htm