of 33 /33
Advent Devotionals 2017 DaySpring Baptist Church

ourdayspring.orgourdayspring.org/templates/files/advent-devo-2017.docx  · Web viewEach Chrismon is placed in a separate “gift” bag with a sheet of paper ... By his great mercy

  • Upload
    dodieu

  • View
    214

  • Download
    0

Embed Size (px)

Citation preview

Advent Devotionals 2017

DaySpring Baptist Church

Theories to the origins of the Advent wreath tradition are varied but we do know Christians have been using the wreath as a spiritual tool and practice during the season of Advent for a long time. When it comes to the colors and the meanings that are associated with the four candles, traditions vary among denominations and branches of the church. What you read below will help explain how we have imagined and prepared this Advent guide for you this year. Thank you to Sam Davidson for helping with the liturgy and to Karen Melton, Candace Spain-Smith, Naomi King and Tiffani Harris for contributing to the family activities.

The Wreath: The wreath is a circle of evergreen branches representing eternity and the unending love of God for His people. On that wreath, five candles are arranged: three purple candles, one pink candle, and a white candle in the center. These candles represent the light of Christ coming into the world. During the season of Advent, one new candle on the wreath is lit each Sunday and throughout the week. In some traditions, the candles represent components of the Nativity story, such as the shepherds. In others, each candle represents a virtue or quality, such as love, that each Christian should strive to embody and practice as we await His coming and the reconciliation only He can bring. There are other traditions as well. The reflections in this booklet focus mostly on the virtues, but some also contain Nativity components.

The Candles: On the first Sunday of Advent, the first purple candle is lit. This candle is often called the "Prophecy Candle" in remembrance of the prophets, primarily Isaiah, who foretold the birth of Christ. This candle represents hope or expectation in anticipation of the Messiah. On the second Sunday of Advent, the second purple candle is lit. This candle represents love. In some traditions this is referred to as the "Bethlehem Candle," symbolizing Christ's manger. On the third Sunday of Advent the pink or rose-colored candle is lit. This pink candle is often called the "Shepherds Candle," and it represents joy. The last purple candle, oftentimes called the "Angels Candle," represents peace and is lit on the fourth Sunday of Advent. On Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, the white center candle is lit. This candle is called the Christ Candle and represents the life of Christ that has come into the world, pure and spotless.

Blessing for the wreath: O God, by whose word all things are made holy, pour your blessings upon our time together this Advent. May this wreath and the candles remind us to slow down our hectic pace and make our hearts ready for the coming of Christ your Son and our Lord. Amen.

Advent Week 1: Hope

Opening Reflection:

Celebrating Advent means learning how to wait.

- Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Biblical Background

Although God declares through the prophets that Gods people will be conquered because they have forsaken the covenant, they are not left without hope. The prophets speak Gods Word of hope in the midst of darkness; God will break into their history in the future, restoring not only Israel, but the whole world through Gods people.

Isaiah 11

A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse,and a branch shall grow out of his roots.The spirit of theLORDshall rest on him,the spirit of wisdom and understanding,the spirit of counsel and might,the spirit of knowledge and the fear of theLORD.His delight shall be in the fear of theLORD.

He shall not judge by what his eyes see,or decide by what his ears hear;but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist,and faithfulness the belt around his loins.

The wolf shall live with the lamb,the leopard shall lie down with the kid,the calf and the lion and the fatling together,and a little child shall lead them.The cow and the bear shall graze,their young shall lie down together;and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp,and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adders den.They will not hurt or destroyon all my holy mountain;for the earth will be full of the knowledge of theLORDas the waters cover the sea.

On that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples;

the nations shall inquire of him, and his dwelling shall be glorious.

Carol: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

O come, O come, Emmanuel,And ransom captive IsraelThat mourns in lonely exile here,Until the Son of God appear.Rejoice! Rejoice! EmmanuelShall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse,freeThine own from Satan's tyranny;From depths of Hell Thy people saveAnd give them victory o'er the grave.Rejoice! Rejoice! EmmanuelShall come to thee, O Israel.

Luke 1

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth,to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgins name was Mary.And he came to her and said, Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you. But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.The angel said to her, Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus.He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David.He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.Mary said to the angel, How can this be, since I am a virgin? The angel said to her, The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God.And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren.For nothing will be impossible with God.Then Mary said, Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word. Then the angel departed from her.

O come, O come, Thou Lord of might,Who to Thy tribes, on Sinai's height,In ancient times did give the Law,In cloud, and majesty and awe.Rejoice! Rejoice! EmmanuelShall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheerOur spirits by Thine advent hereDisperse the gloomy clouds of nightAnd death's dark shadows put to flight.Rejoice! Rejoice! EmmanuelShall come to thee, O Israel.

Closing Reflection

Advent is a time of waiting. Our whole life is a time of waiting; waiting for the time when there will be a new heaven and a new earth. Then all people will be as brothers and sisters, rejoicing in the words of the angels song: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests (Luke 2:14). Learn to wait! For he has promised to come: Behold, I stand at the door. But now we call to him: Yes, come quickly, Lord Jesus. Amen.

- Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Conversation Starters

How is Advent different than Christmas?

What was a time when you had to wait for something? Have you ever had to wait for God to do something?

Why do you think waiting is so hard?

What was your favorite part of the readings for this week?

Activity Suggestions

Waiting is not a simple task for anyone, but especially for children. Similarly, really understanding the concept of hope is equally challenging. Waiting becomes a little more bearable when we have hope that there is something at the end of the wait. The Advent wreath and candles are a visible sign of our waiting and the light from the candles remind us of our hope. Some families also like to refrain from placing all of the nativity pieces out at the beginning of Advent. Slowly adding pieces throughout the month reminds us to wait and reminds us to remember the hope that we have in the gift of Jesus. The final culmination on Christmas morning is putting the baby Jesus in his rightful place in the nativity manger.

Consider with your family what it means to have hope. Hope is more than a feeling or emotion. Hope is often a choice, made in faith, to keep our eyes on our heavenly home even though the storms of this world may swirl around us. The body of Christ is a conduit of hope and we are called upon to share that hope with our brothers and sisters who are struggling. Who do you know that needs a reminder of the hope that Christ brings? How can you as a family share the hope of Christ with others? Is there a kind gesture that you can give? Can you invite someone for a meal or walk with someone in a way that shares the hope of Christ with them? Maybe there is a family or someone who is struggling financially, or struggling with illness that could use some encouragement. Consider being a secret Santa to someone and drop off a note of encouragement, a gift and a tangible reminder of Gods presence with them during their tough days. Children can really get excited about picking out a gift or making a gift and giving it in secret. Let them experience the joy of giving secretly.

Saint Nicholas Feast Day (December 6)

We dont know very much about the real Saint Nicholas, who is now remembered as Santa Claus. He lived a long time ago, around the year 300, in what is now the country called Turkey. He grew up as part of the small church community there, which we think the Apostle Paul probably started on one of his missionary journeys. Nicholas became the bishop, or pastor, in the city of Myra, and lived a long life of faithful witness and service to Jesus. His legacy was preserved through all kinds of stories and legends, and what we know about his life and character is actually pretty different from how the world celebrates Santa Claus.

Lord, today we celebrate Saint Nicholas.

We want to learn from him how we can be more like you.

Use his example to grow and transform us.

Teach us the real meaning of Christmas.

At the time when Nicholas was bishop, Christians were being persecuted and arrested for their faith. Everyone in the Roman Empire was supposed to give their highest allegiance to the emperor, but Christians said that they only had one real kingand that was Jesus. As the leader of the Christian community in his city of Myra, Nicholas would have gotten in a lot of trouble for this. He was probably put in jail and even beaten up for saying that only Jesus was Lord, but he persevered and remained strong in his faith. Nicholas reminds us that following Jesus isnt always easy.

James 1

My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy,

because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance;

and let endurance have its full effect,

so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing.

Many of the stories that were later told about Saint Nicholas are probably legends. They may not have really happened, but they are based on the kind of person Nicholas was and the kinds of things that he did for God. One of the things that Nicholas almost always does in these stories is take care of people that are vulnerable in troubleespecially children and people who were poor. As a leader of the church, Nicholas considered it his responsibility to care for the people around him who were most in need.

James 1, contd

Let the believer who is lowly boast in being raised up,and the rich in being brought low,

because the rich will disappear like a flower in the field.

For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the field;

its flower falls, and its beauty perishes.

It is the same way with the rich;

in the midst of a busy life, they will wither away.

The most famous story about Nicholas is a story about giving unexpected gifts:

Once upon a time, there was a man with three daughters. They used to be very rich, but times were hard and they lost almost all of their money. They were so desperate that the man was going to do something terrible: He was going to sell his oldest daughter into slavery so that the family could have enough money to eat. But Pastor Nicholas heard about it, and one night he secretly threw a bag of gold into the mans house so that the daughter could afford to get married instead. When the family ran out of money again, Nicholas did the same thing for the second daughter; and when it happened a third time, he did it for the third daughter. But the last time, the father chased Nicholas to find out who had shown his family so much kindness. Nicholas told the man it was him, but made him promise not to tell anyone as long as he lived, because he wanted to obey Jesus by giving humbly and secretly.

James 1, contd

But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves.

For if any are hearers of the word and not doers,

they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror;

for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like.

But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere,

being not hearers who forget but doers who act

they will be blessed in their doing.

When we talk about Santa Claus now, we talk about all of the many material gifts that he gives to people who have been good. But Saint Nicholas gave gifts in a different way. He gave gifts to people who barely had enough to get by, and who maybe didnt even deserve it. He gave gifts to people like God gives gifts to us; not because we earn them, but because he loves us. Sometimes Santa Claus distracts us from the good news that Jesus is born. But the real Saint Nicholas reminds us that Jesus wants us to celebrate him and care for the people that he cared about.

James 1, contd

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this:

to care for orphans and widows in their distress,

and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

Conversation Starters

What was your favorite part of these stories about Saint Nicholas?

How do you think Nicholas is different from Santa Claus like we see him now?

What do you think it means to give sacrificially?

How did Saint Nicholas live like Jesus?

Advent Week Two: Love

Deuteronomy 6-10

This is what Moses said to the Israelites before God led them into the Promised Land:

Hear, O Israel:

TheLORDis our God, theLORDalone.

You shall love theLORD your God with all your heart,

and with all your soul, and with all your might.

Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart.Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise.Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead,and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

So now, O Israel, what does the LORDyour God require of you?

Only to fear theLORDyour God,

to walk in all his ways, to love him,

to serve theLORDyour God with all your heart and with all your soul,

and to keep the commandments of theLORD your God and his decrees that I am commanding you today, for your own well-being.

For theLORDyour God is God of gods and Lord of lords,

the great God, mighty and awesome,

who is not partial and takes no bribe,

who executes justice for the orphan and the widow,

and who loves the strangers, providing them food and clothing.

You shall also love the stranger,

for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.

Matthew 22

This is what Jesus said when the Pharisees and Sadducees asked him what the most important commandment was:

You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart,

and with all your soul,

and with all your mind.

This is the greatest and first commandment.

And a second is like it:

You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

(Silent Reflection From the poem Christmastide by Christina Georgina Rosetti):

Love came down at Christmas,Love all lovely, love divine;Love was born at Christmas,Star and angels gave the sign.

John 13

This is what Jesus said to his disciples on the night before he was arrested and crucified:

I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

Responsive Prayer

God of gods and Lord of lords,

You loved your people in the wilderness, and brought them to a land of plenty.

Let us love you with all our heart,

With all our soul, and with all our might.

Let us love the stranger as ourselves,

As you loved us when we were strangers.

Jesus Christ, our Lord and Teacher,

You are Emmanuel, God-with-us.

You have loved us and made us live;

On you hang all of the law and the prophets.

Let us love one another, as you have loved us.

Holy Spirit, you give many good gifts;

The greatest of these is love.

Make us patient;

Make us kind.

Make us humble;

Let us forgive.

Let us bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, and endure all things.

Bind us together to be your people.

Behold, the love of God takes away the sins of the world.

Come, Lord Jesus.

Conversation Starters

What was your favorite part about what we read this week?

Why is love so important to God?

When is a time that you felt Gods love?

When is a time that you showed Gods love to someone?

Activity Suggestions

Everyone knows who a neighbor is, right?The person who lives next door to you! However, the commandment to love your neighbor exceeds our expectations andis shown beautifully in the parable of the Good Samaritan. Read together aloud this amazing story, found in Luke 10:25-37 or have your child retell what they remember.

Here we see a neighbor as one who is both a stranger and one who is different from us. As we learn to follow the words of Matthew 22, to love our neighbor, let us consider how we might care for the three types of neighbors God has given us.

The first neighbor is indeed the one right next to us. Perhaps we know their name or perhaps we need to introduce ourselves. From what you know of them, is there a way you could serve a need that they have? Are they elderly? Do they need help with their yard? Do they have young babies? Could they use a meal? Are they lonely? Could you be a friend?

Friend number two is the stranger that comes into your life, perhaps unexpectedly. Do they need money? Do they need help with a heavy bag? Are they in a wheelchair and need assistance? The stranger could come at any moment. So be ready to serve as Christ to them!

And our third neighbor is a distant neighbor. Perhaps you have heard of a country suffering from drought or famine and you know of a ministry that is serving their needs. You might choose to sponsor a child from a different country and learn how you might pray for that child particularly. You might even consider putting up a large map and praying for a region of the world that your family has a heart for.

Neighbors are everywhere: very close by and very far away. As Christians we are called to love our neighbor as ourselves. Let us remember the life of Jesus and how he gave all for us that we might give all that we have to others. Ask your family how they can be a good neighbor to someone this week and make plans to do so together.

Family Chrismon Tree: Countdown to Christmas

What is a Chrismon? The idea of Chrismons was first developed in 1957 by Frances Spencer and the women of the Ascension Lutheran Church in Danville, VA. Chrismons are ornaments made from Christian symbols (or Chrismons, a contraction for 'Christ monograms'). Each Chrismon has a special meaning that represents the Christian faith. Because these symbols have been used since Biblical times, they remind us of our heritage as Christians. Many churches display a Chrismon tree during the Advent and Christmas season decorated with handmade ornaments. Traditional Chrismons are Greek symbols like Chi Rho (i.e., the first two Greek letters in the word for Christ) but also include images and symbols that represent God (e.g., lion, dove) and the life of Christ (e.g., communion). Chrismons are typically made in white and gold color schemes to symbolize the purity and majesty of the Son of God.

Our family tradition: We have 25 small Chrismons. They are made out of wood and are about the size of your palm. Each Chrismon is placed in a separate gift bag with a sheet of paper that describes the special meaning of that particular Chrismon. After Thanksgiving, we put the Christmas tree up. Starting on December 1, we choose one Chrismon per night. We read the description and then place the Chrismon on the Christmas tree.

Why do we do this tradition? We wanted to be mindful of the advent season more than just on Sundays and help teach our child about the meaning of Christmas. We started this tradition because it was an easy way to integrate a sacred tradition into our familys Advent/Christmas season. It was also a useful tool in teaching all (children and adults) about these sacred symbols of our faith.

Where do you get Chrismons? It is very difficult to find Chrismons in the store or online for purchase. One reason is that according to Chrismon tradition, the Chrismons are to be handmade which often entails individuals coming together in creating these special symbols of the faith. Handmaking Chrismons can be a fun and meaningful tradition for families. DaySpring typically provides a time each year to making Chrismons. If you want to make these at home, you can also find books and resources online that provide Chrismon patterns. But, I will be honest, I was unaware of this special Chrismon practice of handmaking Chrismons when I purchased all of mine from a woodworker in Missouri. (so I cheated I mean modified this tradition) If you would like to practice a modified Chrismon tradition, here is the website of the woodworker in Missouri. https://www.christiansym.com/

Additional Options:

Sacred Option: Light the Advent candle. Read an Advent devotion. Then add the new Chrismon to the tree. Say prayer. Blow out the candle.

Family Time Option: After we complete the sacred traditions, we pick out a wrapped family gift from under the Christmas tree. During the school week, the wrapped item is typically a small Christmas themed childrens book that we read together. During the weekend, the wrapped item is typically a Christmas themed movie OR a Christmas themed family activity (like making a Gingerbread house, or baking cookies for the neighbors, or hot cocowhich means we are jumping in our pajamas and the car to go look at Christmas lights in the area).

Logistical Option: Thanksgiving through Christmas tends to be too busy for our family to create these meaningful traditions. To relieve a lot of this stress, I tend to pre-package everything for the next year when I take down the Christmas tree after all the holiday craziness is over.

Jesse Tree: Some families observe a similar ritual with Jesse Tree ornaments which trace the lineage of Jesus and is a great review of Old Testament stories.

Advent Week 3: Joy

Luke 1

In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country,where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.When Elizabeth heard Marys greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spiritand exclaimed with a loud cry, Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me?For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy.And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.

And Mary said,

My soul magnifies the Lord,and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me,and holy is his name.His mercy is for those who fear himfrom generation to generation.He has shown strength with his arm;he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,and lifted up the lowly;he has filled the hungry with good things,and sent the rich away empty.He has helped his servant Israel,in remembrance of his mercy,according to the promise he made to our ancestors,to Abraham and to his descendants forever.

And Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.

Carol: Joy to the World

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!Let earth receive her King;Let every heart prepare Him room,And Heaven and nature sing,And Heaven and nature sing,And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.

(Psalm 98)

O sing to theLorda new song,for he has done marvelous things.His right hand and his holy armhave gotten him victory.TheLordhas made known his victory;he has revealed his vindication in the sight of the nations.He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulnessto the house of Israel.All the ends of the earth have seenthe victory of our God.

Make a joyful noise to theLord, all the earth;break forth into joyous song and sing praises.Sing praises to theLordwith the lyre,with the lyre and the sound of melody.With trumpets and the sound of the hornmake a joyful noise before the King, theLord.

Let the sea roar, and all that fills it;the world and those who live in it.Let the floods clap their hands;let the hills sing together for joyat the presence of theLord, for he is comingto judge the earth.He will judge the world with righteousness,and the peoples with equity.

Joy to the World, the Savior reigns!Let men their songs employ;While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plainsRepeat the sounding joy,Repeat the sounding joy,Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.

1 Peter 1

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.In this you rejoice, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials,so that the genuineness of your faithbeing more precious than gold that, though perishable, is tested by firemay be found to result in praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy,for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,Nor thorns infest the ground;He comes to make His blessings flowFar as the curse is found,Far as the curse is found,Far as, far as, the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,And makes the nations proveThe glories of His righteousness,And wonders of His love,And wonders of His love,And wonders, wonders, of His love.

Conversation Starters

What was your favorite part of these readings?

Why do you think Mary had so much joy?

When are times that you feel joyful?

Why is joy so important to God?

Activity Suggestions

Psalm 98 reminds us to shout for joy to the Lord and burst forth into jubilant song with music. It is time for family karaoke or maybe even a family dance party. Turn on your favorite Christmas tunes or other music and make a joyful noise.

Psalm 98 says Sing to the Lord a new song. Mary illustrates this practice in Luke 1:46-55 with what has been termed Marys Song. Make a new song to the Lord. If you play an instrument, get the instruments ready. Think of a favorite Christmas song that everyone knows (e.g. Silent Night or Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer). Use that melody as the basis of your song. Have everyone form a circle, and determine who will start the new song. Each person is only allowed to say one line that continues the song.

In Luke 1, we are reminded of the time when Mary visited Elizabeth. Do you know a neighbor or friend or a family member that needs to be visited this week? Who is someone that you can visit with to share the love and joy of Christ.

Bring a little joy to someones life. Who is someone that you know that is often taken for granted or forgotten? Consider making them cookies and/or cards to remind them that they are loved and appreciated.

Going a little deeper: In the media (news, advertisements, blogs), we often hear messages about how to make ourselves happier. Discuss the distinctions between happiness and joy. What is the root of happiness? What is the root of joy? What brings God joy? What brings humans joy?

Advent Week 4: Peace

Isaiah 2

The word that Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.

In days to comethe mountain of theLORDs houseshall be established as the highest of the mountains,and shall be raised above the hills;all the nations shall stream to it.Many peoples shall come and say,Come, let us go up to the mountain of theLORD,to the house of the God of Jacob;that he may teach us his waysand that we may walk in his paths.For out of Zion shall go forth instruction,and the word of theLordfrom Jerusalem.He shall judge between the nations,and shall arbitrate for many peoples;they shall beat their swords into plowshares,and their spears into pruning hooks;nation shall not lift up sword against nation,neither shall they learn war any more.

(Silent Reflection)

Peace is not merely the absence of some negative forcewar, tension, confusion, but it is the presence of some positive forcejustice, goodwill, the power of the kingdom of God.

- Martin Luther King, Jr.

Isaiah 9

The people who walked in darknesshave seen a great light;those who lived in a land of deep darknesson them light has shined.You have multiplied the nation,you have increased its joy;they rejoice before youas with joy at the harvest,as people exult when dividing plunder.For the yoke of their burden,and the bar across their shoulders,the rod of their oppressor,you have broken as on the day of Midian.For all the boots of the tramping warriorsand all the garments rolled in bloodshall be burned as fuel for the fire.For a child has been born for us,a son given to us;authority rests upon his shoulders;and he is namedWonderful Counselor, Mighty God,Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.His authority shall grow continually,and there shall be endless peacefor the throne of David and his kingdom.He will establish and uphold itwith justice and with righteousnessfrom this time onward and forevermore.The zeal of theLORDof hosts will do this.

Carol: Hark, the Herald Angels Sing

Hark the herald angels sing"Glory to the newborn King!Peace on earth and mercy mildGod and sinners reconciled"Joyful, all ye nations riseJoin the triumph of the skiesWith theangelichost proclaim:"Christ is born in Bethlehem"Hark! The herald angels sing"Glory to the newborn King!"

Before Jesus was arrested and crucified, he said to his disciples:

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. (John 14:27)

Christ by highest heav'n adoredChrist the everlasting Lord!Late in time behold Him comeOffspring of a Virgin's wombVeiled in flesh the Godhead seeHail the incarnate DeityPleased as man with man to dwellJesus, our EmmanuelHark! The herald angels sing"Glory to the newborn King!"

Celebrant Prayer

God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, we live in the hope of your kingdom, which has come and will come again in Jesus Christ, our Prince of Peace. Teach us to turn our weapons into garden tools, and to help those who are treated unfairly. You are peace, and you command us to make peace in your world. Give us the faith, the hope, and the courage to participate in the coming of your kingdom. Amen.

Hail the heav'n-born Prince of Peace!Hail the Son of Righteousness!Light and life to all He bringsRisen with healing in His wingsMild He lays His glory byBorn that man no more may dieBorn to raise the sons of earthBorn to give them second birthHark! The herald angels sing"Glory to the newborn King!

Conversation Starters

What was your favorite part of these readings?

Why is peace so important to Jesus?

When was a time that you helped make peace for someone?

How can followers of Jesus be peacemakers for those around them?

Activity Suggestions

Talk as a family about personal disputes or conflicts you may have had recently. What does it look like to peacefully resolve a contentious situation? How does prayer help bring peace to conflicts you have with other people? Talk about global conflicts and disputes. In your family prayers, include petitions for peace in known contentious situations. What peaceful resolutions are you looking forward to in the last days spoken of in Isaiah 2?

Think of some tangible ways your family can share Gods peace with others, perhaps someone who is currently experiencing something stressful (like a visit to someone who cant get out easily and may be lonely or a meal delivered to a family that has had illness in their household). Create some visual reminders of Gods peace for your own family this Advent season. Make or buy a banner spelling out Peace to display as part of your Advent and Christmas decorations, look up simple ways to make a manger or nativity Christmas ornament or craft, or have a family outing to choose and buy a special Nativity ornament. Talk about Jesus name Prince of Peace. How has this description of God brought comfort to you in times of struggle? What does it mean to have Gods peace even in the midst of trouble?

Look at the baby Jesus in your nativity set, if you have one on display in your home. Talk about how Gods reconciliation with the world was made possible through Jesus born as a baby. If you have a baby in your family or familiar to your family, talk about how small baby Jesus must have looked when He was born and how big His peace is.

As a family, look at artistic representations of the Nativity. Talk about ways the artists made the scene look peaceful, even though the situation was a young mother, far from home, having a baby in a barn. Talk about Christmas carol lyrics, like the first verse of Away in the Manger, that describe the birth of Jesus. Consider how Mary and Joseph may have felt when Jesus was born; how must they have needed Gods peace then? Talk about the contrast between the less than peaceful circumstances of Jesus birth and the divine peace that His birth brings to the world. Share times when you felt Gods peace, even though the events around you were not peaceful.

24

In the Beginning: A Christmas Eve Scripture Litany

Speaking Components: Genesis 1, John 1 (multiple), Luke 2 (multiple), Matthew 2,

Philippians 2, Revelation 22

Genesis 1

In thebeginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

The earth waswithout form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

And God said,Let there be light, and there was light.And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness.God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

John 1

In the beginning was the Word,

and the Word was with God,

and the Word was God.

He was in the beginning with God.All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into beingin him was life,and the life was the light of all people.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

Luke 2

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgins name was Mary. And he came to her and said, Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you. But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end. Mary said to the angel, How can this be, since I am a virgin? The angel said to her, The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God. Then Mary said, Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word. Then the angel departed from her.

And Mary said,

My soul magnifies the Lord,and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me,and holy is his name.His mercy is for those who fear himfrom generation to generation.He has shown strength with his arm;he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,and lifted up the lowly;he has filled the hungry with good things,and sent the rich away empty.He has helped his servant Israel,in remembrance of his mercy,according to the promise he made to our ancestors,to Abraham and to his descendants forever.

He was in the world, and the world came into being through him.

The Word became flesh and lived among us.

Luke 2

In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered.This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria.All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David.He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child.While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child.And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.But the angel said to them, Do not be afraid; for seeI am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people:to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,

Glory to God in the highest heaven,and on earth peace among those whom he favors!

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger.When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child;and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them.But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

Carol: O Holy Night

O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining,It is the night of the dear Savior's birth.Long lay the world in sin and error pining.Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices,For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!O night divine, O night, when Christ was born;

O night divine, O night, O night divine.

John 1

And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory,

the glory as of a fathers only son, full of grace and truth

He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him.He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him.

But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God,who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.

Matthew 2

In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem,asking, Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising,and have come to pay him homage.When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him;and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born.They told him, In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:

And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;for from you shall come a rulerwho is to shepherd my people Israel.

Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared.Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy.On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.

Now after they had left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.Then Josephgot up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt,and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet, Out of Egypt I have called my son.

When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men,he was infuriated, and he sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had learned from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah:

A voice was heard in Ramah,wailing and loud lamentation,Rachel weeping for her children;she refused to be consoled, because they are no more.

John 1

He was in the world, and the world came into being through him;

yet the world did not know him.

He came to what was his own,

and his own people did not accept him

And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a fathers only son, full of grace and truth. (John testified to him and cried out, This was he of whom I said, He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.) From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

No one has ever seen God.

It is God the only Son, who is close to the Fathers heart, who has made him known.

Philippians 2

If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy,make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves.Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,

who, though he was in the form of God,did not regard equality with Godas something to be exploited,but emptied himself,taking the form of a slave,being born in human likeness.And being found in human form,he humbled himselfand became obedient to the point of deatheven death on a cross.

Therefore God also highly exalted himand gave him the namethat is above every name,so that at the name of Jesusevery knee should bend,in heaven and on earth and under the earth,and every tongue should confessthat Jesus Christ is Lord,to the glory of God the Father.

Carol, contd

Truly He taught us to love one another,His law is love and His gospel is peace.Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.And in his name all oppression shall cease.Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,With all our hearts we praise His holy name.Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,Hispowerand glory ever more proclaim!Hispowerand glory ever more proclaim!

John 1

In the beginning was the Word,

and the Word was with God,

and the Word was God.

He was in the beginning with God.

All things came into being through him,

and without him not one thing came into being.

Revelation 22

See, I am coming soon

I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.

Come, Lord Jesus!

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints. Amen.