Season - Advent
The word Advent derives from a Latin word for "coming." These four weeks, which actually begin the Church year, are set aside to prepare for the coming incarnation and also for the final coming of Christ in power and glory. Although Advent is not a mini-Lent, it is a time for self-examination and setting aright those things that call us away from following Christ. We are particularly called to resist the frenzy of the secular preparations for Christmas and to focus on receiving the Christmas gift in humility and wonder.
Theme - Preparing the Way
(Isaiah 40.3) In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
In Isaiah's era, the coming of a king was announced ahead of time and people literally leveled the road on which the king would travel, getting the rocks out of the way and smoothing the path where it was not level.
Notice that Isaiah says to do this in the wilderness and in the desert - in all the places of our lives, not just the ones frequently traveled. Preparing for the coming of our King means dusting out and opening up our entire lives to receive him. We spiffy up the church during December to prepare for those who will visit. How do we prepare our selves, our souls and bodies, to receive the gift of the Christ-child? That will be the focus of our Advent stewardship.
Click to open the December worksheet in PDF format or DOC format.
Spiritual Growth Through Advent Disciplines
Christian disciplines help us order our lives with the focus on God. During Advent we take time to prepare our hearts to receive the magnificent gift of the Incarnation. Our diocesan spiritual formation blog, ReflectionsOnline http://reflections-dwtx.org, offers a special Journey through Advent section with weekly reflections, daily meditations, a good-books list, and alternative gift opportunities as particular disciplines to adopt this Advent.
Have your own grown-up Advent calendar. Here are two suggestions. Find them both at Amazon.com, www.amazon.com.
1. Read A Simply Wonderful Christmas: A Literary Advent Calendar, editor Silke Leffler. It is a collection of 24 short stories from around the world illustrated with charming designs.
2. Read God With Us: Rediscovering the Meaning of Christmas, edited by Greg Pennoyer and Gregory Wolfe (Paraclete Press).
The ancient Advent disciplines included prayer, penance, fasting and alms giving. Concentrate on each of those for one week during Advent.
Ministry Spotlight on Children's Ministry
1. Volunteer to help with the children's Christmas pageant.
2. Write personal thank you notes to the children's ministry staff and volunteers in your congregation.
Financial Health - Giving Beyond Your Means
Join the Advent Conspiracy - worship fully, spend less, give more, love all. Give one less gift this year than last and use the money to give the gift of water or farm animals or other resources to third world people. www.adventconspiracy.org.
In your family, give a gift to the world this Christmas through one of the many Alternative Christmas Gift catalogs.
Reaching Out to Celebrate Christmas
Arrange for children at your local children's shelter to attend your Christmas pageant. Use the church van to pick them up and take them home. Or arrange for a caravan of drivers in their own cars.
God's Creation - Stop and Be Aware
Visit Sharing Nature, an organization established in 1979 by naturalist and author Joseph Cornell. Sharing Nature uses creative activities to give people joyful and inspiring experiences of nautre. It is dedicated to helping people of all ages experience their oneness and harmony with all life. Enjoy!
Fun outdoor games for kids and nature activities can provide your child with a gateway into the natural world. In this free site you will find games, activities, stories, nature books, wilderness skills, creative teaching ideas, and much more. Explore http://www.outdoor-nature-child.com/index.html