When you think of Advent (the four Sundays and weeks preceding Christmas), what is the first thing you think about? Do you think about the Advent wreath and candles at church? Do you think about the story of Jesus’s birth? Maybe you think about Christmas songs. It’s quite possible you think about everything you must get done before Christmas (no judgment here—I promise). Most likely, you think about all these things.
I’m not going to lie—my first thought of Advent makes me think of the time period I call “Merry Chaosmas.” Please don’t judge! We all know Christmastime can be very chaotic. But over the last few years, my thoughts have thankfully turned to, How can I spend this time really celebrating our Savior’s birth? One way I do this is by breaking out my favorite Christmas carols and songs—and no, I don’t mean “Jingle Bells.” I mean the ones that are so rich and truthful that you immediately think, Jesus.
In truth, the Advent season is based upon four pillars: hope, joy, peace, and love. If we think of these words beyond the holiday “stuff,” we quickly realize they represent Jesus Himself—He is hope, joy, peace, and love.
So, how can we take these words and worship our way through Advent? Let’s make it simple: focus on these four words and songs each week and let God do the rest. He will meet us right where we are.
1. HOPE. God’s promise of a child King gave His children hope (Isa. 9:2-7).
Over the past few years, Lifeway has released several Advent Bible studies. These Bible studies are a great way to dive deeper into understanding just how much hope the Christmas story gives us. From the start of Advent until Christmas Day, anticipation fills the air. “O Holy Night!” is just one carol that reminds us of hope. This Christmas let’s remember the hope He promises!
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!
Fall on your knees! O hear the angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born!
O night, O holy night, O night divine!1
2. JOY. True joy is found through a connection to Jesus (John 15:1-11).
What brings you joy? The holidays can be filled with both joy and sorrow. But, as Tara-Leigh Cobble (host of The Bible Recap podcast and author of the He’s Where the Joy Is Bible Study) says, “He’s where the joy is.”2 We won’t find true joy in Christmas presents, but if we choose to set our eyes upon our Savior, the One who is joy, we will find joy. One of the most well-known Christmas carols, “Joy to the World! The Lord Is Come” is filled with reminders of the joy God sends us. This Christmas let’s find our joy in the One who is joy!
Joy to the world, the Lord is come! . . .
Joy to the earth, the Savior reigns!3
3. PEACE. “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:7).
”Merry Chaosmas” and peace aren’t exactly best friends. I know we all prefer peace over chaos. The great news is Jesus brings all the peace we could ever need. As the hymn “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” voices, Jesus is the King of peace and will calm the chaos. This Christmas let’s receive the peace God wants us to have.
O come, O King of nations, bind
in one the hearts of all mankind.
Bid all our sad divisions cease
and be yourself our King of Peace.4
4. LOVE. The love of Jesus changes lives (Luke 7:36-50).
Ultimately, Christmas is all about love. Jesus was sent to us from love. Jesus is love. Throughout Advent, we need to show our love as much as we can in whatever ways we can. As the song “Silent Night, Holy Night” reminds us, the Son of God is love’s pure light. This Christmas let’s be the light in someone else’s darkness.
Silent night, holy night!
Son of God, love’s pure light
radiant beams from thy holy face
with the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord, at thy birth
Jesus, Lord, at thy birth5
Think of your favorite Christmas song. Go ahead and listen to it on repeat. Sing it as loud and as many times as you would like. I’m certain the Lord never tires of hearing you sing about the birth of His Son!
Because she joined the choir at her church, Chasity Phillips now works for Lifeway Worship. By day, she’s a marketing manager enjoying her dream job. By night, she’s a baseball momma of two teenage boys (Peyton and Palmer), happy wife to a recovering Little League coach (Brent), and dog momma to a golden retriever (Sweet Summer Girl), who happens to be her favorite. (The girls must stick together!) When she’s not at a baseball field somewhere, she can be found in her happy place (her bed!) or volunteering at her boys’ school. Oh, and this flip-flop-wearing, palm tree-loving Florida native also believes anything is possible with Jesus, sunshine, and pearls. You can follow her on Instagram @ChasityPhillips or Facebook @ChasityBaileyPhillips.
1. Placide Cappeau, “O Holy Night!,” trans. John S. Dwight, comp. Adolphe Adam, 1847, https://worship.lifeway.com/findAndBuy/songPage/OHolyNight!-I?versionId=90834&rowNum=7&searchString=o%20holy%20night#add-info.
2. Tara-Leigh Cobble, He’s Where the Joy Is (Nashville, TN: Lifeway Press, 2021).
3. Isaac Watts, “Joy to the World! The Lord Is Come,” comp. George Frideric Handel, arr. Lowell Mason, 1719, https://worship.lifeway.com/findAndBuy/songPage/JoytotheWorld!TheLordIsCome-I?versionId=90598&rowNum=6&searchString=joy%20to%20the%20world#add-info.
4. “O Come, O Come Emmanuel,” Latin Hymn, trans. sts. 1, 2, John Mason Neale (1851), sts. 3, 4, Henry Sloane Coffin (1916), Music Plainsong, adapt. Thomas Helmore, https://worship.lifeway.com/findAndBuy/songPage/OCome%2COCome%2CEmmanuel-I?versionId=64&rowNum=1&searchString=o%20come%20o%20come%20Emmanuel#add-info.
5. Joseph Mohr, “Silent Night, Holy Night,” trans. sts. 1, 3, John Freeman Young, trans. sts. 2, 4, Anonymous, comp. Franz Gruber, 1818, https://worship.lifeway.com/findAndBuy/songPage/SilentNight%2CHolyNight-I?versionId=71&rowNum=3&searchString=silent%20night#lyrics.