The season of Advent this year is from Nov. 30 to Dec. 24, beginning four Sundays before Christmas and ending on Christmas Eve. The word Advent comes from the Latin adventus, meaning “coming” or “visit.” It is the beginning of the liturgical year for Christians. (Liturgical or liturgy means the forms and functions of public worship.]
During Advent, we prepare for and anticipate the coming of Christ. We remember the longing of Jews for a Messiah and our own longing and need for forgiveness, salvation and a new beginning. Even as we look back and celebrate the birth of Jesus in a humble stable in Bethlehem, we also look forward anticipating the second coming of Christ as the fulfillment of all that was promised by his first coming.
Advent devotional and Bible study materials are emerging from several helpful sources to celebrate this sacred season from various perspectives.
Hopewell UMC is offering at no cost its four-week Bible Study, Advent Dreams, based on Mathew 1:18-2:23. Those who believe or wonder if God speaks through dreams can explore such revelations through the Infancy narratives found in the gospel of Matthew.
This story of Advent and Christmas is told in four progressive scenes, each featuring a nighttime dream given to human beings. They offer divine guidance, or warning from danger, or a challenge to try something new. If Advent is God’s dream coming true, we might ask how do we ourselves and our church live into God’s dream, and does God today offer guidance or protection or challenge to us in dreams? To receive this free curriculum, contact Hopewell United Methodist Church firstname.lastname@example.org 610-269-1545. Find out more at http://hopewellumc.org/advent-
At least three UMC general agencies also offer Advent resources. The General Board of Discipleship (GBOD) has Advent and Christmas devotions for home and church, worship liturgy, including for Advent wreath candlelighting, planning ideas, activities for children, multimedia downloads, etc.
The General Board of Church and Society has a new four-week Advent Bible study that highlights World AIDS Day (Dec. 1) and addresses the HIV pandemic and its relationship to other social concerns. The study, “The Season for Change – An Advent Study on HIV/AIDS and Social Justice Advocacy,” is free and downloadable. Details and downloads.
United Methodist Communications invites Christians to celebrate this Advent season with Imagine No Malaria worship resources. Their downloadable materials include sermon starters, hymn suggestions and children’s messages.
The five weeks of materials are centered on the themes of “Imagine Hope,” “Imagine Peace,” “Imagine Joy, “Imagine Love,” all highlighted by the African hymn “I’ve Got The Light Of God In Me,” from the country of Cameroon. Additional materials include litanies, prayers, and a short video that can be shared in small groups or with the congregation.
Imagine No Malaria, an initiative from The United Methodist Church, is committed to ending death and suffering from malaria through prevention, communication, trained health workers and facilities, and grassroots education. To date, INM has raised 82 percent of its goal with more than $64.5 million in gifts and pledges. United Methodists across the world are working hard to reach and celebrate the initiative’s $75 million goal before the denomination’s General Conference in 2016.
Finally, Society of St. Andrew, an anti-hunger ministry partner that resources many United Methodist churches, also offers an Advent devotional booklet of prayers, Scripture and meditations, titled “Prince of Peace.” In addition to the booklet, the Starter Kit includes a detailed program introduction, a bulletin insert, weekly announcements, an order form and a litany for dedication of Advent gifts in worship. Quantities may be ordered free of charge.
Information compiled by John Coleman, EPA Conference Communications Director