Advent...is a season of waiting.
Sometimes waiting is natural. We're just so excited (or anxious) for what's coming that we have a hard time focusing on anything else. It's like Christmas or a birthday as a kid -- some kinds of waiting are simply unavoidable.
Advent waiting is a bit different. It’s a waiting we have to practice. It is a kind of "muscle" we have to work to strengthen. And that means we need to plan to wait -- and to do it intentionally.
This year, we've designed a simple “waiting workout” that will work for all ages. The full workout will only take a few minutes each time you do it, but feel free to pick and choose what works for you! And for the young at heart, there is a short video each day. The workout is designed to be done everyday, but again, do what works for you!
Just remember, the more you do this "workout," the stronger your "waiting muscles" will be, and the better prepared your heart will be to celebrate Christmas.
We hope this season will be one where you experience God's blessings.
Our Advent Practice
Our "waiting workout" can be done at any time during the day. It includes a reading with a candle lighting (to remind us of our focus), a video from The Jesus Storybook Bible or a Bible reading to guide our thoughts, plus a short prayer and a blessing. We've included some discussion questions for you as well.
Here are a few pointers to help you get started:
Plan a time and place for your practice. Set an alarm if you need a reminder.
You can print out a script for each week here if that helps. But everything you need will always be on this page.
Begin by choosing a leader to keep you moving and sett the pace. Invite others to read a part (before you begin or as you go).
Don't rush through this time! (It's only going to take a few minutes.)
This can be an individual workout, but why not ask a good friend to do this with you — via FaceTime or over the phone.
Don't worry if you miss a day. Perfection isn't the goal, and every "workout" is a win!
You'll need at least one candle (real or electric) to start with. But it doesn't need to be fancy. Officially, you'll need five candles on Christmas Eve. (But who said this needs to be official?)
If you have any questions, contact Pastor Jon or Jane Carlson.
As we begin, let’s pause and remember that God is with us always.
[Wait in stillness]
God, we can’t see you now,
but we believe you are here with us.
Note: One or more readers can read the following:
Advent is a time of waiting. We are waiting for the birth of Jesus. We are waiting for the return of Jesus. We are waiting for Jesus and there is love in the waiting.
On the first Sunday of Advent, we lit the candle of hope. Since Christ is our sure hope for today and tomorrow, there is hope in the waiting.
[Light the first candle.]
On the second Sunday of Advent, we lit the candle of peace. Since Christ is the Prince of Peace, there is peace in the waiting.
[Light the second candle.]
This is the third Sunday of Advent. We light the candle of joy. Jesus said that he came that we might have joy - hearts full of and overflowing with the joy only he can bring us. We are waiting for Jesus, but there is joy in the waiting.
[Light the rose-colored candle.]
This is the fourth week of Advent. We light the candle of love. Christ loved us so much that he left his home in heaven to be born in a stable. He loved us so much that he will return to us so we can be with him forever. We are waiting for Jesus but there is love in the waiting.
[Light the fourth candle.]
God’s love is not something that can wear out or be broken.
God’s love cannot be hidden or taken away from us.
God’s love is strong and powerful. Nothing is stronger!
God is love, and he has always loved us.
God’s love lasts forever.
Jesus is the definition of true love.
Love is being willing to lay down your life for others.
Come Lord Jesus, we wait for Christmas and for your return with love.
The Word of God
Here are two options for hearing God’s Word at Advent.
This left column takes us on a journey
from the very beginning of the Bible up to
the coming of the Prince of Heaven.
(These videos below are 4-8 minutes.)
This right column includes short readings from various Bible passages for us
to read and reflect on. (They do not match the videos on the left.)
“Then you will see that I will throw open the windows of heaven. I will pour out so many blessings that you will not have enough room to store them. The sun that brings life will rise. Its rays will bring healing to my people. You will go out and leap for joy like calves that have just been fed.
1 Samuel 16:7, 13a
Take heed, watch; for you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. Watch therefore - for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning — lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Watch."
God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee. The angel greeted [Mary] and said, “The Lord has blessed you in a special way. He is with you.... Do not be afraid, Mary. God is very pleased with you. You will become pregnant and give birth to a son. You must call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High God. The Lord God will make him a king like his father David of long ago. The Son of the Most High God will rule forever over his people. They are from the family line of Jacob. That kingdom will never end.”
Luke 1:26b, 28, 30b-33
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning. O Israel, hope in the Lord! For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption. And he will redeem Israel from all his iniquities.
The Light of the Whole World
There were shepherds living out in the fields nearby. It was night, and they were taking care of their sheep. An angel of the Lord appeared to them. And the glory of the Lord shone around them. They were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news. It will bring great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you. He is the Messiah, the Lord. Here is how you will know I am telling you the truth. You will find a baby wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a manger.”
And in that region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, "Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!” When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.”
The King of All Kings
After the Wise Men had listened to the king, they went on their way. The star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them. It finally stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were filled with joy. The Wise Men went to the house. There they saw the child with his mother Mary. They bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures. They gave him gold, frankincense and myrrh.
Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit; and her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins. “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel" (which means, God with us).
Leader or Reader:
We are waiting to celebrate your birth at Christmas.
And we are waiting for you to come again to make all things right.
But it can be hard to wait.
It can be really hard to feel love when we wait.
We can get upset and frustrated with our own faults and weaknesses.
We can get irritated and disappointed with others around us.
We can get angry and impatient with you.
Give us your love.
Let it fill us so completely that it pushes out the negative feelings we so often experience.
Let it move through us and bless those around us.
Let it turn into praises for all you have done and will do for us.
And remind us that we don’t wait alone.
YOU ARE WITH US.
You are with ALL of us.
Leader: Tell others to hold out their hands and then say:
As you wait for Jesus’ coming, may you be full of love.
The Lord bless you and keep you.
Here are some questions you may want to discuss this week while you're around the dinner table, driving in the car, or standing in line at the grocery store.
When you think of love, what comes to mind?
Finish the sentence: Love is like_____________.
Who did you see today/yesterday that needed love?
Who did you see today/yesterday that lived in love?