In centuries past, it was easy to walk to your parish church and attend daily prayer services. People could pray and hear the scriptures daily. Today, with our busy schedules and churches many miles away, going to church every day just doesn’t seem possible. This places a heavier burden on individual families to be diligent in their commitment to prayer and scripture at home. I found this to be especially hard in non-denominational and baptist circles, where I was just told to read and pray as the spirit led. Or, pick a devotional among the hundreds of thousands out there. How do you go about picking one?
Let’s be real. It’s hard to pray and read every day if you don’t set up a routine. Even when you set up a routine, life happens and disruptions occur, and the temptation is to leave praying and reading for ‘when you have the time’ and truthfully, it’s easy for it to slip from your mind and then feel guilty on Sunday mornings when the sermon reminds us to pray and read scriptures every day. But left to our own, how do we do it? My solution is to make it a family routine based on the Anglican church’s “Daily Office.”
This post is the first of a series of three parts that include 1) the explanation of why to use the Daily Office to pray and read at home, 2) how to adapt the Daily Office for home use and 3) step-by-step instructions on how to use the Daily Prayer App for home family prayer.
This is the first year that we decided to make our very own advent wreath. First, let’s get some questions out of the way.
- What is advent? Advent is the period of time in the church liturgical season where we await the coming of Christ in the flesh (Christmas). The services are hopeful and solemn, not super bombastic or celebratory as Christmas.
- What is liturgy? What is Anglican liturgy? Liturgy is an orderly and structured form of church worship that consists of a combination of prayers, readings, songs, and sacraments. The Anglican liturgy is uniquely defined in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. It specifically contains a 3-year schedule of prayers (where you sometimes stand and sometimes sit), readings from the Bible (at least one from the Old Testament, one of the Epistles, and one from the Gospels), and the sacrament (Communion). Each year is broken down into liturgical seasons where upon a different theme is focused. This sounds boring, you may be thinking. With centuries of knowledge and time dedicated to figuring out the best chorus of verses and prayers, the liturgy is quite exciting and helps focus the soul on what’s most important: Christ. Check out this article on “Why Millennials Long for Liturgy.”
- What is an advent wreath? An advent wreath is a wreath (like the branches twisted into a circle that people often hang on their doors) with five candles. There are three purple candles (representing Hope, Love and Peace), one pink candle (Joy), and one white candle in the center that represents Christ. The candles also represent each week of advent, so Week 1 is Hope, Week 2 is Love, Week 3 is Joy (Pink), Week 4 is Joy and Christmas Day is Christ (White). For more info on advent wreaths, click here.
- What’s the purpose of the advent wreath? It is a tool to help us think on each weekly theme as the advent of Christ draws near. Each element of the wreath has symbolic meaning. We must remember to repent from our sins and work toward a holy life to prepare for Christ.
- What happens when you light each candle? We choose to conduct a small home prayer ‘service’ that includes scripture readings, some singing, and prayers. Click on the document “Advent Wreath Prayers” for a PDF example of what we pray.