Advent Devotions, Week Three

Sunday, December 16th
Sometimes the greatest wisdom comes from the mouths of children. The Christmas story in particular puts children at the center: a teenage mother, shepherds young enough to sleep in the fields, angels of all kinds come to sing praises, and of course, a child born in a manger. Join us for worship at 10am for our annual youth Christmas program on this third Sunday of Advent, bring your donations of socks and underwear, and light your third candle today!

Monday, December 17th
This week we remember the shepherds — smelly, dirty, commoners who received the greatest news of all: the birth of Jesus. Who is unexpected and often forgotten in our world today? How do you think they experience good news?

Tuesday, December 18th
The shepherds were interrupted in the midst of their important work of keeping the sheep safe from wolves and thieves. How do you feel when you’re interrupted? Set an intention today to be open to being interrupted, and follow where that interruption sends you!

Wednesday, December 19th
The shepherds’ story in Luke 2:1-20 doesn’t tell us if the shepherds took their sheep with them to the manger. It would have been a lot of work to get them moving, but a lot of danger to leave them behind. What do you think — did they or didn’t they?

Thursday, December 20th
Christmas is only five days away!!! Are you feeling stressed yet??? It’s okay to say no to something when you need to rest and recharge. Find one thing in your calendar that you could say no to, and take that time instead to rest, breathe, and practice joy.

Friday, December 21st
There are many who can’t leave their work behind even for Christmas: doctors and nurses, retail and food service workers, parents and caregivers, and many more. Pray for those who long for rest.

Saturday, December 22nd
Today can be a frantic day in stores and malls. If you’re out and about, make sure to take your time. Drive carefully and be kind to those you meet — especially the overworked employees.

Advent Devotions, Week Two

Advent Devotions, Week Two

Sunday, December 9th
On the second Sunday of Advent, we read the story of the angel Gabriel’s announcement to Mary. When you light your two Advent candles, think about the angels we reflected on during the past week. How is Gabriel’s impossible message to Mary an example of good news?

Monday, December 10th
Our second week of Advent takes us to the magi, the “wise men” who traveled from a mysterious land in the East to follow a bright star (Matthew 2:1-6). They believed it would lead them to a king. If you were going on a journey to meet a new king (or a president!) that you didn’t know much about, what would you take?

Tuesday, December 11th
The wise men brought three gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh (Matthew 2:11). These are not normal gifts for a baby, but they are good gifts for a king, who the wise men would expect to be surrounded by riches and perfume all his life. What was Jesus surrounded with instead? What do you think happened to the gifts after this story?

Wednesday, December 12th
The wise men’s dedication, generosity, and courage remind us, too, what it looks like to follow Jesus. Of those three, what do you think you have in abundance? What do you wish you had more of?

Thursday, December 13th
This coming Sunday is a big one: our Christmas pageant plus Undie Sunday! Don’t forget to pick up a pack of NEW socks or underwear to give to the Drawer, who will distribute it to people in need.

Friday, December 14th
As we rush through the final days before Christmas, take a moment to pray for those who won’t have everything they want, or even need. When you light your candles, pray for the poor, the sick, and the homeless, that all may feel love in whatever way it finds them.

Saturday, December 15th
Tonight is our monthly free Community Dinner—a time when we give back to the community around us by providing a delicious meal and a warm space with kind hearts. Tonight is extra-special as we gather not just for a meal but for carol singing after dinner. Join us at 5:30pm!

Advent Devotions, Week One

Sunday, December 2nd
This year, our Advent devotions at Grace will focus on the “cast of characters” ‘round the manger: the angels, the wise men, and the shepherds. As you light the first candle in your wreath, think back: did you ever play any of these characters in a Christmas pageant? Which one? What do you remember about them?

Monday, December 3rd
Angels play a big role in the Christmas story. We usually think of them with long robes, big white wings, and golden halos. But the Bible doesn’t really tell us much about how they looked. If you were going to deliver a message from God, what would you want to wear?

Tuesday, December 4th
Read through this coming Sunday’s story, Luke 1:26-38. What do you notice? What do you wonder about? What surprises you?

Wednesday, December 5th
When angels appear to Mary (Luke 1:26-38) and to the shepherds (Luke 2:8-20), their first words are “Do not be afraid.” Why do you think the angels begin this way? Where do you need to hear “do not be afraid” in your life?

Thursday, December 6th
The angels that appear to the shepherds say “On earth, peace, goodwill among people” (Luke 2:14). What do you think a world of peace and goodwill would look like? How can you spread a little more peace and goodwill today?

Friday, December 7th
Angels are often bringers of good news—sometimes shocking, always life-changing. Who has been an angel in your life, someone whose words or actions have changed you for the better? Send them a note to say thank you.

Saturday, December 8th
It’s one of the last Saturdays before Christmas and you may hurrying through errands, frantically cleaning, or worrying where to get that last perfect gift. Remember to slow down and to keep an eye out for people who need an angel—someone who can offer a kind word or just a smile to make a very busy time a little easier.

Advent at Grace Lutheran Church

What is Advent?

The church’s celebration of Advent counts down the four Sundays before Christmas. “Advent” comes from a Latin word meaning “arrival” — the arrival of Christ. We know many different ways of getting ready for Christmas: picking out a tree, decorating the house, buying and wrapping gifts, making travel plans to see family. But Advent asks us to “get ready” for Christmas in another way: to prepare ourselves for the arrival of Jesus. Are we ready to receive a God who puts on flesh, who sees our suffering and becomes one with us, who trusts the divine into the care of a teenage girl and her fiancé, whose arrival in our world was not recognized by the supremely religious or the politically powerful but by humble shepherds out in dirty fields and pagan astrologers who followed a star?

The most honest answer to this question should probably be no. We are never perfectly “ready” to receive the mystery of God born among us. Yet every year we celebrate it again and again. We remember that Christ comes to us in many ways: in the flesh in Bethlehem over two thousand years ago; every day in our hearts, comforting and transforming us; in the needy and poor around us; and in Christ’s future glory at the end of the age, when all the hate and pain of this world will be overturned and creation will be made new.

Advent is a time when we try (and admit that we can never finish trying!) to be ready for the mystery of the incarnation, the miracle of Immanuel — God-with-us.

 

What’s with the colors?

We know our Christmas colors, of course — red and green. But the church, during Advent, puts on different colors: purple, pink, and blue. Using these colors dates back at least six hundred years! Because Advent was originally thought of as another Lent — a time of waiting and preparation — the purple of Lent was first used to mark Advent as well. Many churches still use purple. Within the past hundred years, blue has also become a common color for Advent. It distinguishes the season from Lent, while still using a royal color to symbolize our waiting and preparation for the coming of a King. Blue also is the color most often associated with Mary the mother of Jesus.

Some churches add pink on the third Sunday of Advent. For church traditions where Advent was a particularly solemn and self-reflective time, the pink colors and candles (sometimes called “rose”) were a visible reminder that Christmas was also a joyful time to be celebrated.

 

What’s an Advent wreath for?

An Advent wreath helps us “count down” to Christmas by lighting a new candle each Sunday of Advent. On the first Sunday, one candle is lit; on the second Sunday of Advent, the first candle is lit and then a second candle is also; and so on. Many churches also have a candle in the center of the wreath, to be lit on Christmas Day.

At our Advent wreath-making event, we invite everyone and every family to work together to make their own wreath to take home. Some choose to light their Advent wreath for a few minutes over breakfast or dinner, or at some other time during the day when there is time to pause, think, and pray.