The Four Weeks of Advent

Advent header

Advent is the season when we prepare ourselves to receive God’s gift of Jesus. It is a time of “getting ready” for the celebration of Christmas.

The mood of Advent is that of longing, expectation, and waiting. Advent is a time when we yearn for Jesus to come back to completely remake all things as the returning King.  The cry of Advent is of those who have experienced injustice in the world under the curse of sin and yet who have hope of deliverance from the God who hears and is not silent.

Advent is a time to repent and believe; to turn away from the false hopes the define our lives and determine our drives so much that it twists us into people who use and oppress others. Advent is a time to find the reality of life with God; the freedom that sets us back on a path of goodness, joy, and love.

The Four Sundays of Advent 2017
Hope – Sunday, December 3
Love – Sunday, December 10
Joy – Sunday, December 17
Peace – Sunday, December 24

Sunday December 24: Christmas Eve at Victory – 10:30 a.m. and 5p.m.
Come Celebrate the Coming of the King.  Invite someone to join you. 

Prepare Yourself and Your Family for Celebrating Jesus’ Birth

Make an Advent wreath. The wreath, because it is a circle, symbolizes God’s never-ending love. The wreath, because it is green, symbolizes life. An Advent wreath contains four candles representing the four Sundays leading to Christmas. Many people place a white candle in the center of the wreath to symbolize Jesus. You can make a wreath using a styrofoam base, greenery, and purple candles. Instead of a styrofoam base, you can place your candles in candleholders. Arrange them in a circle, with the white candle in the middle. Place greenery around the candles.  Use the Advent Home Worship (see below) and worship together daily during Advent, lighting the candles on your wreath.

Here are some additional ways you can prepare your family for celebrating Jesus’ birth:

Daily Advent Scripture Readings

Use these daily readings to prepare yourself to celebrate the Coming of the Savior. Take a few quiet moments to read in reflection or with members of your family.

Week 1:
12/3 Sunday – Matthew 1:8-25
12/4 Monday – 1 Thessalonians 5:12-15
12/5 Tuesday – Isaiah 9:2-7
12/6 Wednesday – John 17:15-19
12/7 Thursday – Ephesians 1:3-7
12/8 Friday – Isaiah 40: 1-5
12/9 Saturday – Matthew 6:25-34

Week 2:
12/10 Sunday – John 1: 1-14
12/11 Monday – Luke 18: 1-8
12/12 Tuesday – Isaiah 61: 8-11
12/13 Wednesday – Matthew 14: 22-33
12/14 Thursday – 1 Corinthians 1:26-29
12/15 Friday – Ecclesiastes 5:13-20
12/16 Saturday – Luke 1:26-40; 2:1-20

Week 3:
12/17 Sunday – Luke 2: 36-38
12/18 Monday – 1 John 4:7-12
12/19 Tuesday – Galatians 6: 7-10
12/20 Wednesday – Luke 22: 39-46
12/21 Thursday – Job 42: 1-4
12/22 Friday – 1 John 1:5-9
12/23 Saturday – Isaiah 49:8-16

Week 4:
12/24 Sunday – Mathew 5:14-16
12/25 Monday – Matthew 5:43-48

Advent Worship for Families

First Week of Advent – Hope

First Sunday of Advent – Sunday, December 3, 2017 
Light the first candle on your wreath and read together the following meditation:

First Reader: This is the first Sunday in Advent. Today, we light one purple candle. This is the candle of hope. Advent is a time of waiting and hoping. We wait for the day when we celebrate again the birth of Jesus. We hope that everyone will come to know God and to worship God.

(Light the first candle)

All: Sing or read together “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus,” The United Methodist Hymnal, 196.

Second Reader: When we look at the first candle, we remember God’s promise. God promised to send a Savior to the people. When we listen to our Scripture reading, we hear what the prophet Isaiah wrote about God. God is the potter who molds us. We know that the gospel witness is one that helps us understand that God is loving and just. God brings peace. This gives us hope. We anticipate again the birth of the baby Jesus, remembering that Jesus helps us know God’s love for us.

First Reader: Read Isaiah 64:8.

Discussion: Think about a potter. A potter takes clay and forms it in a way that is pleasing. That is what God is able to do with each person. We are reminded that we are all the work of God’s hands.

Talk together about how we are formed by God. Remember together the gifts and talents of each person. How do we use these gifts that God has formed in us?

Prayer:
Dear God: Thank you for your son, Jesus. Thank you for the words of the Prophet Isaiah that remind us that you are the source of our hope. Help us to live each day, allowing you to form us in a way that brings about your kingdom here on earth. Amen.

Monday, December 4, 2017: Today read again Isaiah 64:8. Memorize this verse. How do you think this verse gives hope to people?

Tuesday, December 5, 2017: Is there someone you know who needs to hear words of hope? Make or select a card for that person and mail it today.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017: Hope is something we need in our world. Today, pray for the president and the members of congress. Pray for their leadership for our country and for the world.

Thursday, December 7, 2017: As we get ready to celebrate again the birth of Jesus, we sometimes get very busy. Today, take a ten-minute break. Sit quietly. If it helps you to concentrate, look at your Advent wreath. Pray, asking God’s help to bring quiet and calm to a busy world.

Friday, December 8, 2017: Think about your family. Some may live with you. Others may be far away. Who in your family needs God’s hope? Pray for this family member today.

Saturday, December 9, 2017: There are people in our neighborhoods, in our church, and in our community who need to know of God’s hope. Select someone to visit today. Visit by phone or in person. Go as a family or by yourself. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a visit to a home. Maybe there is someone you always see at the library. Stop by today and talk with that person. Tell the person you visit one way he or she helps you feel hopeful.

Second Week of Advent – Love

Second Sunday of Advent — December 10, 2017 
Light the two candles on your wreath and read together the following meditation:

First Reader: This is the second Sunday in Advent. Today, we light two purple candles. Last Sunday, we lit the candle of hope. This Sunday, we light the candle of love. One verse that many memorize and remember on this day is John 3:16, “God so loved the world…” Some people may not know the love of other people. That makes it harder for them to understand God’s love. During Advent, we pray that we may remember again God’s gift of Jesus to the world and know that God’s love for all people is the reason for this gift.

(Light the first and second candles.)

All: Sing or read together “Love Came Down at Christmas,” The United Methodist Hymnal, 242.

Second Reader: When we look at the second candle, we remember God’s love. When we read the words of Scripture, we know of God’s greatness and care. We remember God’s love at Advent when we remember that God sent Jesus to us to help us know that God is loving and just.

First Reader: Read Isaiah 40:1-8.

Discussion: When we think of God’s love, we might not always think of the words of the prophets. And this verse might not be one that comes to mind. But the image of God comforting people is a loving image. The image of God making the rough way smooth is one of love. When have you felt comforted by God’s love? What makes you feel that rough times are made easier because of God’s love?

Prayer:
Dear God: Thank you for your son, Jesus. Thank you for the words found in our Bible that help us remember your love and care. Help us see how we can bring God’s message to the people we meet in our schools, at our jobs, and in our neighborhoods. Help us be messengers of God’s love for everyone. Amen.

Monday, December 11, 2017: Read again Isaiah 40:1-8. Create a picture that shows God’s comforting love. Include words or prayers that help you remember God’s love. Give thanks for the world and all people in the world.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017: Is there someone you know who needs to hear words of God’s love? Make or select a card for that person and mail it today.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017: Love is something we need in our church. Think about the people in our church. Select one person in our church. Pray for that person today.

Thursday, December 14, 2017: As we get ready to celebrate again the birth of Jesus, we sometimes get very busy. Today, take a ten-minute break. Sit quietly. If it helps you to concentrate, look at your Advent wreath. Pray, asking God’s help to bring quiet and calm to a busy world.

Friday, December 15, 2017: Think about your family. Some may live with you. Others may be far away. Who in your family needs God’s love? Pray for this family member today.

Saturday, December 16, 2017: There are people in our neighborhoods, in our church, and in our community who need to know of God’s love. Select someone to visit today. Visit by phone or in person. Go as a family or by yourself. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a visit to a home. Maybe there is someone who waits on you at the grocery store. Stop by today and talk with that person. Tell the person you visit how you are reminded of God’s love because of what that person has said or done.

Third Week of Advent – Joy

Note: Some Advent wreaths may have one pink candle. The pink candle is always lit on the third Sunday of Advent and traditionally means “joy.” If your wreath has a pink candle, light this as the third candle this week.

Third Sunday of Advent — Sunday, December 17, 2017 
Light the three candles on your wreath and read together the following meditation: 

First Reader: This is the third Sunday in Advent. Today we light three purple candles (OR two purple candles and the pink candle.) The first Sunday, we lit the candle of hope. On the second Sunday, we lit the candle of love. Today, we light the candle of joy. One thing that sometimes happens as we get ready to celebrate Jesus’ birth is we expect to be happy all the time. Joy is not the same as happy. Joy is a deeper feeling created by knowing that God cares for us. Joy is remembering that God sent Jesus so we would always know of God’s care. During Advent, we pray that we may remember again God’s gift of Jesus to the world and know the joy that gift brings to all people.

(Light the first, second, and third candles.)

All: Sing or read together “Joy to the World,” The United Methodist Hymnal, 246.

Second Reader: When we look at the third candle, we remember God’s promise of joy. God promised to send a Savior to the people. Today, we read from the Gospel of John. In the Scripture, we read that John was sent by God not to be the light, but to testify to the light. This reminds us that Jesus brings light to the world. And where there is light, there is joy and peace and assurance. When the world seems dark, scary, and frightening, we are reminded that Jesus brings light, and that brings joy.

First Reader: Read John 1:6-8.

Discussion: Think about a time or a situation when things were dark. This could mean things were literally dark – in the middle of the night when a noise scares us, for instance. Or it could be we felt darkness, such as times when we are frightened and feel alone and hopeless. Talk together about a time of darkness. Now remember how it feels to have light – either physically experiencing light that breaks apart the darkness or feeling comforted and joyful because our feelings of darkness have ended. How would you describe those feelings? Is joy a word that you would use at this time?

Who in our world need God’s joy? What are our hopes for joy in our world today? How do we help others know that God gives joy?

Prayer:
Dear God: Thank you for your son, Jesus. Thank you for the joy remembering Jesus’ birth brings to us today. Help us live in such a way that our words and our actions help others know of the joy you give. Amen.

Monday, December 18, 2017: Today read again John 1:6-8. Make a list together of the things that bring light to our lives and make us joyful. Paint or draw a picture of something that makes you joyful.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017: Is there someone you know who needs to hear words of joy? Make or select a card for that person and mail it today.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017: Joy is something we need in our city. Think about different leaders of our city. Select one leader of our city. Pray for that leader today.

Thursday, December 21, 2017: As we get ready to celebrate again the birth of Jesus, we sometimes get very busy. Today, take a ten-minute break. Sit quietly. If it helps you to concentrate, look at your Advent wreath. Pray, asking God’s help to bring quiet and calm to a busy world.

Friday, December 22, 2017: Think about your family. Some may live with you. Others may be far away. Who in your family needs God’s joy? Pray for this family member today.

Saturday, December 23, 2017: There are people in our neighborhoods, in our church, and in our community who need to know of God’s joy. Select someone to visit today. Visit by phone or in person. Go as a family or by yourself. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a visit to a home. Maybe there is someone you see in a place where you go to eat. Stop by today and talk with that person. Tell the person you visit one way he or she brings joy to you.

Fourth Week of Advent ­– Peace

Fourth Sunday of Advent and Christmas Eve — December 24, 2017 
Light the four candles on your wreath and read together the following meditation: 

First Reader: This is the fourth Sunday in Advent and Christmas Eve. Today, we light the four purple candles. (OR three purple candles and the pink candle). The first Sunday, we lit the candle of hope. On the second Sunday, we lit the candle of love. On the third Sunday, we lit the candle of joy. Today, we light the candle of peace. Our world is not always a peaceful world. People hurt other people. Countries are at war today. People don’t take care of the world. People yell and scream at other people. But God promises peace. During Advent, we pray that we, as well as all people, will seek God’s peace.

(Light the first, second, third, and fourth candles.)

All: Sing or read “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” The United Methodist Hymnal, 230.

Second Reader: When we look at the fourth candle, we remember God’s promise of peace. We recall the words of Jesus in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.” In times of war and hatred, it’s hard to remember that Jesus is the one who brings peace. As we approach Christmas, let’s remember that God’s intention is a place of peace where people shake hands instead of harm one another.

First Reader: Read Luke 1:47-55.

Second Reader: In the Scripture, we hear Mary’s song of praise. There must have been times when Mary was frightened, worried, fearful, and sad. She may not have felt very peaceful as she considered her future. Yet her words help us see the peace that comes when we trust in God.

Discussion: How privileged we are to have this beautiful song of Mary. Can you imagine her singing the words written in Scripture? It is a testimony to her faith at being chosen as God’s servant. And because she embraces God’s future for her, she faces the future with the assurance of God’s peace.

Who are the people in our world who need God’s peace? What are our hopes for peace in our world today?

How do we help others know God’s desire for peace in our world?

Prayer: Dear God: Thank you for your son, Jesus. Thank you for those in our world today who seek to act for peace. Help us look for ways to be peacemakers at home, at church and at school. Amen.

Read together Luke 2:1-20.

At the time when Jesus was born, shepherds weren’t considered to be very important. They had important work to do, but they weren’t people that others might necessarily invite to their homes. Yet they were invited to meet the baby Jesus.

Are there people in your family or community who might not be invited to a Christmas celebration this year? Join hands together. Name those who come to mind that on this Christmas Eve are alone and forgotten. Together, think of a way you can recognize and remember some of the forgotten people. Together, pray for the forgotten people in your home, your church, or your community.

Sing together as your prayer and hope for Christmas Eve, “Silent Night,” The United Methodist Hymnal, 239.

 

Monday, December 25, 2017 — Christmas Day 

Light the four candles on your wreath, plus the center white candle (which is called the Christ candle) and read together the following meditation: 

First Reader: Today is Christmas. Today, we light the four purple candles. (OR three purple candles and the pink candle). We also light the center white candle. The first Sunday, we lit the candle of hope. The second Sunday, we lit the candle of love. The third Sunday, we lit the candle of joy. The fourth Sunday, we lit the candle of peace. Today, we also light the center candle. This candle represents Jesus. When we light this candle, we remember Jesus’ birth. Our waiting has ended.

(Light the first, second, third, and fourth candles. Light the center white candle.)

All: Sing or read “O Come, All Ye Faithful,” The United Methodist Hymnal, 234.

Second Reader: When we look at the center candle, we remember that God sent Jesus to give hope, peace, joy, and love to all people. Outside of Bethlehem, the shepherds saw a great light and heard the voices of angels. They traveled to the manger and saw the baby Jesus.

Far away from Bethlehem, wise men saw a star in the sky. They followed the star and were filled with joy when they found Jesus. They remind us that the gift of Jesus was not just for the people in one place, but for all people.

First Reader: Read Matthew 2:1-12.

Discussion: It’s amazing to think of these persistent travelers who were determined to find Jesus. They traveled with hope and faith in the promise that they would find the new king. Who are the people in our world who need to know of God’s promises?

What are our hopes on this Christmas Day for our world?

How can we help people remember God’s promises after Christmas Day is over?

Name one thing you are willing to do in the days following Christmas that will help you and others remember God’s promises.

Prayer:
Dear God: Thank you for your son, Jesus. Thank you, God, for sending Jesus for ALL people, not just those in one place at one time. On this Christmas Day, help us remember and rejoice again because Jesus was born. May we live every day remembering your love and care and showing that love and care to others. Amen.