Welcome to the Parish Advent Project! This online journey is designed to help us walk together through the next four weeks, counting down each day and preparing our hearts for Christmas. Every day on the blog you’ll find a few basic items: A short prayer that can be said silently or aloud, a list of four scripture readings, a devotional thought based on those scriptures, and a quick action step to take during the day. How much time you spend on the Advent Project is completely up to you, our hope is that it helps us quiet our hearts and remember the true meaning of the season. So check back each day, or subscribe in the upper-right-hand corner of the blog to receive the posts by email. Looking forward to journeying together toward Christmas!
Rest: [Take a few moments of silence. Then slowly pray these words.]
Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Read: [Meditate on the scripture of the week.]
Reflect: [Use this devotional thought for a moment of reflection. Today’s devotional is written by Eddie Kirkland.]
I don’t like to wait. It’s not really all that fun. Sometimes we wait for something fun, like Christmas, for instance. As a kid, the month of December seemed to take forever. Time slowed down and eventually ground to a halt as December 25th approached.
Sometimes, though, we wait for something that’s not so fun and cheerful; like a job, a spouse, a baby, or a diagnosis. In these instances, we don’t know when the waiting will end, and we don’t know what to expect on the other side. That kind of waiting is even more difficult, and it requires something more than just patience. Waiting in the unknown requires hope.
Each Sunday in Advent, we will introduce a theme for the week. It’s a simple word that is found in the readings which carries us through the next seven days. This week’s theme is Hope, and it’s something we all desperately need.
Today, as I open these four passages for the first time, I’m struck immediately by how dark, gloomy, and hope-less some of them seem. Several of them don’t seem all that Christmas-y at all. In fact, the Psalm and passage from Isaiah seem downright discouraging. But I find something different in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. I love the way The Message translates this passage:
“Just think—you don’t need a thing, you’ve got it all. All God’s gifts are right in front of you as you wait expectantly for our Master Jesus to arrive on the scene for the Finale. And not only that, but God himself is right alongside to keep you steady and on track until all things are wrapped up by Jesus.” (I Cor. 1:7-8, MSG)
I’ve heard people say over and over, “As Christians, we have hope because we know how the story ends.” And they’re right, we do. If we believe in Jesus, we know what the last chapter looks like. That should be enough to bring us hope, right?
But Paul takes it a step farther. He says, not only do you have a future hope, you have a hope in the here & now. “You don’t need a thing, you’ve got it all.” Every spiritual gift is available to us – now. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness… all of these things are available to us today. No matter what it is that we are hoping for, according to Paul, we already have everything that we need.
“I don’t need a thing.” What if we spent the next four weeks believing that was true? What if we waited, but we waited with hope? Hope that one day, Christ will make all things new and right. But more powerfully, hope that Christ will give us whatever we need to sustain us through this season.
The next four weeks is a season of waiting. But as we wait, let’s embrace hope. Today, let’s remember that we “don’t need a thing,” and that God himself will carry us across the finish line.
Respond: [Put your prayer into action throughout the day.]
Family Experience: Each Sunday, we will suggest an activity for you to do as a family. It’s a simple and fun way to get the entire family engaged in the Advent season. Also, feel free to adapt the experience for personal use, or gather some friends at the dinner table and celebrate together!
Start Your Advent Calendar – We’re going to spend the next 25 days counting down to Christmas, so today’s activity is to find a way to mark the countdown visually in your home. Your children may have received an Advent Calendar at our last Parish Gathering (we have extras, which you can pick up on December 7), or you can find Advent calendars at the local store. Or, if you’re especially crafty, you can create one together. Anything will do, just a simple, visual countdown to Christmas day.
Once your calendar is in hand, gather together as a family and walk through these simple steps:
- Hang your calendar somewhere you will see it every day.
- Explain what the calendar is and how it will help your family count down the days until Christmas.
- Tell your family about the theme of the week: “Hope.” Explain what hope is, and what it is you are hopeful for this Advent season. Ask everyone in your family to tell one thing they are hoping for.
- Pray together as a family: “God, thank you for giving us hope because of your son, Jesus. We can’t wait to celebrate his birthday at Christmas. Help us count down each day with patience and hope.”