The Advent season is a four-week period before Christmas that celebrates the anticipation and coming of Jesus Christ, the Messiah. The origin of "advent" is from the Latin word adventus, which simply translates as "coming" or "arrival." Not only is the Christian meaning for preparing and celebrating the coming of Jesus Christ, his birth at Christmas, but also to celebrate the new life when someone accepts Jesus Christ as their Savior, and lastly, the anticipation of Jesus returning again. (taken from The Beautiful Meaning and Purpose of Advent, www.crosswalk.com)
This year Advent begins Sunday, December 3rd and will last until Sunday, December 24th, when that evening we will celebrate the birth of Jesus in our Candlelight Christmas Eve service at 7:00 pm. Our services will feature A Sanctified Art "How Does a Weary World Rejoice?" worship resources (sanctifiedart.org), including liturgy, prayers, poetry, original art, music, hymns, devotional booklets, and so much more.
We will also observe The Longest Night/Blue Christmas on Sunday, December 17th at 5:00 pm. For more on this service see below:
Joy is often a companion to many other emotions. We can feel joy in addition to feeling many other things at once: grief, anticipation, anxiety, excitement, disappointment, exhaustion. Perhaps many of us live with the myth that joy is not something we deserve—or that it is wholly out of reach. But our joy is rooted in the truth that we belong to God. Can you tether yourself to that deep truth? You deserve to feel joy—fully. The world needs your joy, even if you are weary. Our joy is better when it is shared.
We acknowledge our weariness
Luke 1:1-23 (Zechariah & Elizabeth are promised a child) Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19
As Advent begins, we start by acknowledging the weariness, grief, rage, and hopelessness we carry—and we also affirm that we are made for joy. We start the season with Zechariah and Elizabeth; they have battled infertility and have lived many years. Perhaps they feel the weight of hopes and dreams unattained. The angel comes to Zechariah with a promise of good news, but Zechariah can’t fully receive it. Sometimes weariness can harden us and prevent us from living fully. Let us acknowledge the ways we, too, are hardened by disbelief. Like the psalmist, let us ask, “how long?” and plead for restoration.
We find joy in connection
Luke1:24-45 (Gabriel visits Mary; Mary goes to Elizabeth) | Isaiah40:1-11
In community, our joy expands. When we can’t rejoice, we can carry each other’s joy. That is what Elizabeth and Mary do for each other. The good news begins to take shape in Elizabeth’s womb, but scripture tells us that she stays secluded, hiding her pregnancy from others—that is, until Mary arrives at her door, also pregnant. Perhaps Mary’s arrival is the inbreaking that changes everything for Elizabeth, for in that moment, her child leaps in her womb and she is filled with the Spirit. She can’t help but to rejoice. Her joy is contagious and wraps around Mary like a hug. Through the prophet Isaiah, we hear God speak tender words of comfort; this is the comfort we can give to and receive from each other during this season.
We allow ourselves to be amazed
Luke1:57-66 (The birth ofJ ohn) | Psalm126
After Elizabeth gives birth, her neighbors and family celebrate with her. When it comes time to name the child, Zechariah affirms the name given by the angel and by Elizabeth. In that moment of affirming the promise, Zechariah’s speech is restored. Everyone is filled with awe. How often do you allow yourself to be amazed? Wonder is all around us—can we recognize it? As we learn how to rejoice in a weary world, can we live in a way that allows amazement and wonder to surprise us often? In Psalm 126, those who expect to reap tears are granted a surprise: shouts of joy. Amazement is a balm for the weary.
We sing stories of hope
Luke1:46-55 (Magnificat) | Luke1:67-80 (Zechariah's song)
As soon as Zechariah’s voice returns, his first words are gratitude and blessing. He sings a story of praise for God’s protection and promise, and then he showers a blessing on his newborn son. He sings a story of hope. After Elizabeth exclaims blessings upon Mary, Mary sings: “My soul magnifies God; my spirit rejoices in God.” Mary sings about a God of liberation who pulls the powerful from their thrones and lifts up the lowly. Mary sings a story of hope, one in which justice and joy are interwoven. As we prepare to celebrate Christ’s birth, may we also sing stories of hope, justice, and joy.
We make room
Luke 2:1-20 (Nativity story)
Luke’s Gospel tells us that when Mary gives birth to Jesus, she lays him in a manger, for there was no place for them in the guest room. Scholars argue about where, exactly, the birth occurs—and why. Was it in an inn or the living room of a simple peasant home? Was Bethlehem teeming with visitors who were also there to be counted in the census? Was Joseph’s family inhospitable because they disapproved of his marital situation? Regardless of where the birth occurs, we know that Christ is born in a crowded, unlikely place. And yet, God makes a place here anyway. God draws the circle wider as shepherds and unexpected guests arrive. This Christmas, let us also make room—for strangers and neighbors alike. For this is good news of great joy for all people.
Each Sunday of Advent during our worship service, we will have a special candle lighting liturgy with a reading and prayer for each of the Sundays of Advent that reflect on the following themes:
You can download this Daily Calendar to your computer.
Adult prompts written by Rev. Lisle Gwynn Garrity | Calendars designed by Rev.
Lauren Wright Pittman sanctifiedart.org