Our Advent Challenge: Re-discover Christ through Scripture

Get to know Jesus through the Gospel of Matthew this Advent with Hallow’s #Pray25

This Advent, join the Hallow community as we pray through every chapter of Matthew. Most days are one chapter, but we’ve combined a few to fit the 28 chapters of Matthew into the 25 days of Advent.

Each day, we’ll read a passage from the chapter of the day, reflect on it together, and then offer prompts for you to bring to God. There will be 5, 10, and 15-minute options to fit every schedule. You are welcome to read the entire chapter on your own, but it’s not required!

Why did we choose the Gospel of Matthew for Advent?

The Gospel of Matthew begins with the angel declaring “you shall name him Emmanuel,” which means “God is with us.”

And the Gospel of Matthew ends with Jesus declaring, “I will be with you always, until the end of the age.”

From the first chapter to the last, the Gospel of Matthew reveals what God wants us to know: He is with us. In Advent, we prepare ourselves for the coming of God in three ways: at Christmas 2,000 years ago, into our lives today, and at the end of time.

That’s why, during Advent, we sing “O come, O come Emmanuel.” We pray: Come, God who is with us. Come into our hearts, come into our world. Transform us. Bring us closer to your Son. Breathe in us your Holy Spirit. Fill us with your grace to live out the sacrificial love you modeled for us. And at the end of our earthly life, bring us home to you.

This Advent, we hope to read the story of Jesus anew, in a way we haven’t done before yet on Hallow. We hope to see Jesus’ coming on Christmas in light of the whole picture – from his miraculous birth to his teachings, his death, and finally, to his triumphant Resurrection.

Week by Week

Week 1: Hope

We begin Advent as we light the first purple candle, which symbolizes hope. This candle is called the “Prophecy Candle” in reference to the prophets, especially Isaiah, who foretold the birth of Christ. In the Gospel of Matthew, the author refers to the Old Testament over 100 times, reminding readers that all of salvation history has pointed towards Jesus from the beginning.

During this week in #pray25, we’ll pray through chapters 1-7. We begin with the angel announcing Jesus’ coming, witness the wisemen meeting the Holy Family, Jesus’ baptism and temptation in the desert, and end with Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. These chapters reveal who Jesus is: the long hoped for Messiah.

Week 2: Faith

This week, we light the second candle, called the “Bethlehem Candle.” This candle represents faith, reminding us of the faith of Mary and Joseph as they journeyed to Bethlehem. This week, we also begin the next section of Gospel of Matthew: Jesus’ ministry in Galilee. In these chapters (8-17), we witness great moments of faith: Jesus healing both physical and spiritual ailments, inviting Peter onto the water, feeding the 4,000, and asking Peter: “Who do you say I am?” We end the week with the Transfiguration, a moment of glory to again remind us that Jesus is not just a great prophet or teacher, but the Son of God.

Week 3: Joy

This week, the Church lights the rose-colored candle, which symbolizes joy. This week is meant to remind us of the joy the world experienced at the birth of Jesus, as well as the joy of being halfway through Advent. This candle is often called the “Shepherd’s Candle,” and to start off the week, we read about the Good Shepherd from Matthew chapter 18. Over the course of the week, we read through chapter 23, and we experience both the joy of discipleship and the humility discipleship calls us to.

Week 4: Peace

During the fourth week of Advent, we light the final candle, often called the “Angel’s Candle,” which symbolizes peace. We begin this week with Jesus describing his second coming and final judgement in chapters 24 and 25, showing us a kingdom where the last are first and the first are last, a kingdom that ultimately will bring true peace. Then, in chapters 26 and 27, we witness Jesus’ final meal with his disciples and his Passion and Death. It may seem strange to meditate on Jesus’ death so close to Christmas. But Jesus’ birth and life, death and resurrection cannot be separated from each other. When God sent his Son, he knew what was coming. He knew he had to suffer, but he also knew that through his suffering and death he’d bring about a greater joy – the joy of heaven opening up to all of us. The cross, then, though a cause for great sorrow, is also a great cause for hope, faith, joy, and peace. And we celebrate this during the final two days of #pray25 as we pray with the final chapter of the Gospel of Matthew. In this chapter, we rejoice at the Resurrection, and then on Christmas Eve, we hear Jesus tell us “I am with you always, until the end of the age.” He is truly Emmanuel, God with us.

We hope that journeying through the Gospel of Matthew with Hallow this Advent draws you closer to God, and helps you celebrate with newfound joy on Christmas. We are so excited and grateful to pray with you.