For You & Your Neighbor
Advent (which means “coming”) is a season of waiting, hoping, and anticipating – teaching us to come back to the basics and hang our confidence on two hooks:
Jesus’ first coming into the world – Born in a manger just over 2000 years ago, the Prince of Glory was wrapped in swaddling cloths, sung over by angels, and visited by (and preached to!) low-life shepherds.
Jesus’ second coming into the world – His future return in glory to raise the dead, to bring his perfect judgment, to renew the earth and the heavens – and to dwell with his then-glorified people!
How do I “Advent”?
There’s no right or wrong way to anticipate and celebrate the birth of Jesus. But below you’ll find a few resources to get you started. First, there is a simple daily guide. You can work through this on your own or around the table with family or friends!
We also invite you to participate in a series of community and hands-on events geared toward corporate celebration, service, and remembrance. And as you participate, remember that the Good News of Jesus’ coming is for you and your neighbor – so invite someone to join you!
Scripture We chose six episodes around the birth of Jesus to invite you to focus on one story of scripture each week. Consider reading it each day, letting it dwell in you during the week and looking for one new thing the Lord brings to your attention each day. We’ve also given you one prompt for something you might say, share, or do with younger kids or older kids. Simply open the Bible and read together, close with our usual “this is the word of the Lord: thanks be to God,” and pray together as a family.
How to do it: Lectio Divina (or “sacred reading”) is just an old-fashioned practice of engaging God’s word in a deep and personal way. It’s more meditative, or devotional – a “slow” kind of reading – that “invites us into God’s presence to listen for his particular, loving word to us at this particular moment in time.” You’re not trying to understand everything – but to hear one thing from God. You’re not trying to master God’s word – but be mastered by it. Don’t jump ahead through these steps – this isn’t a rush. Do this slowly and really take this time to be with God.
First, READ the words of the Scripture over and over, letting the words wash over you like the waves on a beach. Read the passage at least 5-7 times.
Then, THINK about a word or phrase that stands out to you or has caught your attention. Focus on it as you read the passage again – read it several times. Then think about it: What does it mean? What does it make you think about? Remember? Imagine? Feel? Roll it around in your heart and mind.
Next, PRAY, take God’s word and your thoughts to him in prayer. Ask him what He wants to teach you and tell him what you think about his Word. Talk to him about what you’ve learned or thought about. Read the passage another time or two, in prayer to God.
Finally, LIVE. Simply rest and be glad, enjoying some time to let what God has said to you soak in. Thank him and feel his great and deep love for you. Think forward into your day – how can you live out what you are learning today from him? Read the passage one last time.
ADVENT FOR FAMILIES
If you have kids or students, here are three additional ways to engage them in the same scripture during the week:
- Picture it: imagine the scene as a photograph – what do you see? Smell? Feel? Notice? Observe? What details are there? (You can also draw it, act it out, or use legos figures, etc. to tell the story)
- Be a detective: what words or details seem extra important, like clues? What do they show us or tell us about God? Or about who Jesus will be, or what he will do?
- Prayer: Come up with your own short prayer in response to each story (or have family members take turns over the week). Use that prayer each day of that week after you light the candle and read the scripture.
Action: Look for one “action” prompt each week as a way we can practice a life of service to our neighbors this Advent. A few of them might be organized things we do together; others can can be organically done with your friends or neighbors as you like! See signalpres.org for up-to-date details.
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