WHAT IS ADVENT?
The Advent tradition started in the fourth century where the Church focused on the Advent (which means “coming”) of Christ by bringing to light his birth, ministry and promised return. This season allows us to tell the story of how the inbreaking of the kingdom of God through the birth of Jesus Christ is “good news of a great joy that will be for all people” [Luke 2:10]. It helps to cut through all the distractions around the Christmas season in our current culture. We can begin by clearing out parts of our lives that have gotten between us and the king who has come and will return.
This season, our prayer and worship life will center around the theme of ‘Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room’.
Over 2000 years ago, no one was prepared for God to actually do what had been long predicted by the prophets. Sure, they believed the messiah would one day come but not in their lifetime. God broke into history, their history, and continues to break into our history today. Are we ready to receive our king? It’s easy to receive a baby. How about receiving all that this baby means for our lives and the world? No one can receive this Christ without some adjustment to their regular lives. Once we do receive him, our lives are forever changed.
Every week we will light a candle around to symbolize God’s light coming into this world. As a community of worshipers we want to enter this season with joyful anticipation and intentional living that reflects all that God has done for us against a culture of excess and instant gratification.
HOW TO ADVENT TOGETHER
+PRAYER 24/7 – 1 – 7
One way we can Advent together as a congregation would be to set an alarm at different times of the day for intentional prayer to pray with the church. We’re suggesting 7am/1pm/7pm. During those times, know that someone else in this congregation is also praying with you.
Examine whether God occupies your whole heart or just the parts you allow. Perhaps confession is needed.
Pray for someone to open their heart for Christ.
You can also follow the list of weekly prayers in the bulletin or pray in the way Jesus taught us in Luke 11:1-13 passage. You can also just be silent before the Lord.
Two ways you can give this season. We have a good neighbor fund to anonymously care for individuals or families in need. We also support mission agencies and missionaries to carry out the work of the gospel locally and abroad. You can designate your check or via an offering envelop what you want to intentionally support during this season in addition to your general offering.
We’ve included a daily devotional so you can discover the richness of the full counsel of God and how it all points to the glories of Christ our savior.
HOW TO USE THE DEVOTIONAL
Begin each day by reading the Psalm for the week. The Psalms help us learn how to communicate our full-selves to God. Then read the scripture that is assigned for the day of the week. When you are done reading take 5 to 10 minutes to reflect either by journaling, drawing, sketching, or just thinking. While reflecting, give God space to speak (at the back of this booklet are some questions for reflection). After reflection pray for others, for your family, and then spend time thanking God for who He is and how He is working in you.
THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN USING THE DEVOTIONAL
– keep a prayer journal
– read each day with family or friends
– ask someone to be a reading partner; then talk about it daily or weekly
– memorize a verse in the Psalm each week
– read the passages 3 times a day
– rewrite a passage in your own words
– if you miss a day don’t fret, pick it back up the next day
+THE BLESSING TREE
This year, the blessing tree challenges you to say, “I pledge to….”
In an effort to make a difference this Advent season, we have come up with some concrete ways to do just that. Currently on the tree, there are several pre-written pledges, ranging from prayer items to acts of kindness. Suggestions for other types of pledges are also welcome. So, if you have a suggestion for a pledge, please fill out one of the blank green pledge cards and hang it.
HOW THE BLESSING TREE WORKS:
1. Browse the pledge cards on the tree and choose one that inspires you. Take that pledge card and keep it in your bible, or somewhere where you will see it every day, as a reminder to continue to keep that pledge. Practice that pledge during this Advent season, but feel free to keep fulfilling that pledge into the new year. As a form of accountability, it is encouraged that you share what you choose with others.
2. You then replace that pledge card with an ornament from the table next to the tree. Please write on the ornament a way that you have been blessed this year, words of encouragement for someone in our congregation, a verse that’s important to you, or even a prayer request. Please know that you can write out as many ornaments as you desire to share.
At the end of this Advent season, our hope is that all of the pledge cards will be replaced with encouraging ornaments. We also hope that you’ll be fulfilling those pledges! Keep checking back each week for new ‘pledges’ through the this joyous time. Some ‘pledges’ will be making repeat appearances, so if someone took a pledge card that you also wanted, you’ll have plenty of chances to find it a duplicate of it on the blessing tree. So, get to pledging!
+FELLOWSHIP & HOSPITALITY
Families and friends expect to get together around Christmas. Gather with one another as often as you can to express our unity in Christ. We are a family in Christ. This is also a time to demonstrate hospitality to our neighbors from informal gatherings to formal dinners.
We have a great opportunity to love and serve our city during this season — We can become more like Jesus, who “came to earth to taste our sadness, he whose glories knew no end. By his life he brings us gladness, our Redeemer, Shepherd, Friend.”