Advent Devotional Preview: The Light Before Christmas

We are sharing excerpts from each of our family Advent devotionals to give you a little sneak peek of what to expect from each. If you haven’t chosen a devotional to go through with your family this year, we hope you’ll consider The Light Before Christmas by Marty Machowski.

You can also take a look inside the book by viewing this preview. There is also a companion Sunday School curriculum! Take a look at a sample from the curriculum here.

Light Overcomes



  • two flashlights or lamps
  • coffee mug

Start in a darkened room by shining one flashlight at the mug to cast a shadow. Talk about how the cup is fighting against the light, casting a shadow. Then show how putting a second flashlight on the opposite side wins the battle against the shadow and overcomes the darkness. Now turn on the main light of the room to see how that overcomes the darkness in the room.


In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:1–5


The Apostle John doesn’t tell the Christmas story in his gospel in the same way that Luke does. Luke tells the familiar story of the angels in the sky appearing to the shepherds in the fields to announce that the Savior had been born in Bethlehem. John describes Christmas a different way: as the arrival of the Light that comes to fight against the darkness.

Let’s read it again. (Reread the passage above.)

Luke also spoke of the struggle between light and darkness in recording the words of Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist. John, born shortly before Jesus, was appointed by God to announce Jesus’s ministry. This is what Zechariah said as he held his newborn son, John:

“And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

Luke 1:76–79

No matter how hard the forces of evil try, they cannot overcome the Light. The truth of God’s light will forever shine bright. Light always wins in a battle against darkness. Even if we light a lamp in a dark room, the light always wins and the darkness flees. Now of course our lightbulbs can burn out, or our batteries die and our flashlight go dim. But God is eternal and the Light of his glory never goes out.


What happens to darkness when you turn on a flashlight? Which wins: the light or the darkness? Did you ever know a time when darkness swallowed up light? How does a flashlight pushing back the darkness remind us of God’s victory over evil?


The Christmas hymn for the week is “The First Noel.” It was first sung in England 200 years ago. It tells the story of the angels appearing to the shepherds to announce the birth of Jesus, and the story of the wise men who followed the star. Notice the theme of light from the star in this song.

The First Noel (verses 13)


The first Noel the angel did say
was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay;
in fields where they lay keeping their sheep,
on a cold winter’s night that was so deep.


Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel,
born is the King of Israel.


They looked up and saw a star
shining in the east, beyond them far;
and to the earth it gave great light,
and so it continued both day and night. [Refrain]


And by the light of that same star
three Wise Men came from country far;
to seek for a king was their intent,
and to follow the star wherever it went. [Refrain]


Ask God to fill you with the light of his truth and push back the darkness of sin from your life.

Excerpt adapted from The Light Before Christmas: A Family Advent ©2022 by Marty Machowski. May not be reproduced without prior written permission.

The Light Before Christmas Frontcover

The Light Before Christmas: A Family Advent Devotional

This four-week Advent family devotional by best-selling author Marty Machowski combines devotions on the theme of light and darkness with the story of eleven-year-old Mia and her grandmother as they prepare for Christmas. 


About the author

Marty Machowski

Marty Machowski is a Family Life Pastor at Covenant Fellowship Church in Glen Mills, PA, where he has served on the pastoral staff for over thirty years. He is the author of a number of family devotionals, curricula (including the Gospel Story for Kids), children’s books, and parenting titles. He and his wife, Lois, have six children and several grandchildren, and reside in West Chester, PA.

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