Advent

Advent is the season of the Church calendar that begins 4 Sundays before Christmas (November 29th this year). It is a time of active waiting and longing for Jesus to come and establish God’s Kingdom in our lives and world.

As with most everything in 2020, Advent and Christmas will be more at home than out-and-about at parties and church gatherings, but we can still mark it -- and look for it to mark us -- together. Each Sunday in Advent, The River will provide a simple liturgy to use throughout the week individually or in households, centered around the lighting of the Advent wreath. So, in preparation for Advent and the spiritual practice of these liturgies, we encourage you to put together an Advent wreath for your space at home. 

You can keep it super simple...or you can go all out. You can piece together something from whatever you have on hand, or you can purchase one online. There are plenty of DIY instructions out there for making your own personalized Advent wreath! Do what works for you, but do prepare. This year of all years we need to see again the light of Jesus that shines in the darkness, and the Advent wreath with its light which grows week-by-week can be a window through which to look.


>> Advent Week 4 (Love) Liturgy to use at Home [download pdf here] 

This liturgy can be done alone, with friends over Zoom, or as a household/family unit. If you share in it with others, be sure to include everyone (both the youngest and the oldest among you!) in the process. It could easily be used to start or end your day. It could be part of a dinnertime routine. As always, do as you can -- with freedom -- and enjoy!

Read: the scripture for the day from your Advent Link Chain

Light: all 4 outer candles in your wreath, the Candles of Hope, of Peace, of Joy, and of Love…

And Pray:
Generous One,
Thank you for all of the ways we are loved.
Thank you for all of the ways we can love.
Teach us to listen closely to each other,
and to our world,
for all the ways and places love is shared.   
Amen.

Play: Song of the week: Love Came Down 

Reflect:
Pick 1 or 2 each day...or stay with the one(s) you like most!

  • When was the last time you were aware of feeling loved by God? What happened? What did you experience?
  • How do you most often experience God’s love?
  • What makes experiencing God’s love hard for you?
  • How does today’s scripture passage speak to you of love?
  • Who around you is needing to know the love of God today? How could you be an expression of that love to them?

>> Advent Week 3 (Joy) Liturgy to use at Home [download pdf here] 

This liturgy can be done alone, with friends over Zoom, or as a household/family unit. If you share in it with others, be sure to include everyone (both the youngest and the oldest among you!) in the process. It could easily be used to start or end your day. It could be part of a dinnertime routine. As always, do as you can -- with freedom -- and enjoy!

Read: the scripture for the day from your Advent Link Chain

Light: the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd candles in your wreath, the Candles of Hope, Peace, and Joy…

And Pray:
Joy-Giving One,
Thank you for the ways you accept and 
celebrate all of who we are.
Thank you for the many, many ways
you live among us.
Teach us to recognize you
And share our joy.  
Amen.

Play: Song of the week: O Come, O Come Emmanuel (There are endless versions on YouTube. This is a more creative take. Feel free to search and use a new one each day!)

Reflect:
Pick 1 or 2 each day...or stay with the one(s) you like most!

  • Describe a time today when you felt joyful...or if not today, tell a story of a time in your life when you were joyful…
  • Do you see joy in today’s scripture passage? Where? What do you notice about what provokes joy?
  • What could you do today or tomorrow that might increase your experience of joy? 
  • What could you do today or tomorrow that might bring joy to the people/world around you?

Create:
Consider making a Joy Collage this week, adding to it progressively each day. Print photos you’ve taken or clip images from websites and magazines that are joyful to you in some way. Arrange them together on a piece of paper. Let the collage be a sign of joy in your living space.


>> Advent Week 2 (Peace) Liturgy to use at Home [download pdf here] 

This liturgy can be done alone, with friends over Zoom, or as a household/family unit. If you share in it with others, be sure to include everyone (both the youngest and the oldest among you!) in the process. It could easily be used to start or end your day. It could be part of a dinnertime routine. As always, do as you can -- with freedom -- and enjoy! Post a picture of your wreath and tell us when/how you’re using the Liturgy here.

Read: the scripture for the day from your Advent Link Chain

Light: the 1st & 2nd candles in your wreath, the Candles of Hope & of Peace…

And Pray:

Gracious One,
Thank you for the promise of peace.
Thank you for the moments
where we feel it deep in our hearts.
Teach us to make peace
with our words, with our hands,
for our own place and all places.   
Amen.

Play: Song of the week: Peace

Reflect:
Pick 1 or 2 each day...or stay with the one(s) you like most!

  • Describe a time today when you felt connected to peace...or if not today, tell a story of a time in your life when you were peaceful…
  • How does today’s scripture passage speak to you of peace?
  • Where are you feeling the need for more peace these days? Consider this question on multiple levels...Internally. For others. Relationally. Community-wide/Globally.
  • What helps you find peace personally?
  • How have you -- or could you -- help to make peace around you?

Blessing:
Finish by either:

  • Imagining Jesus speaking these words over you: Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your heart(s) be troubled and do not be afraid. (John 14:27)
  • Exchanging peace with others if you’re gathered: (First) The Peace of God be with you… (Response) And also with you!

>> Advent Week 1 (Hope) Liturgy to use at Home [download pdf here]

This liturgy can be done alone, with friends over Zoom, or as a household/family unit. If you share it with others, be sure to include everyone (including both the youngest and the oldest among you!) in the process. It could easily be used to start or end your day. It could be part of a dinnertime routine. As always, do as you can -- with freedom -- and enjoy!

Read: the Scripture for the day from your Advent Link Chain (same version as the one Kids' Community families received  in the mail.)

Light: the 1st candle in your wreath, the Candle of Hope…

And Pray:

To the One who gives us Hope,
Thank you for inviting us to the time of waiting.
Help us to:
         open our eyes so we can see your light,
         open our ears so we can hear your words of hope,
         open our minds so we can understand you,
        open our hearts so we can receive your love.
Come, long expected Jesus, we are waiting for you!   
Amen.

Play: Song of the week - Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus

Reflect:
Pick 1 or 2 each day...or stay with the one(s) you like most!

  • Describe a time today when you felt hopeful...or if not today, tell a story of a time in your life when you were hopeful…
  • How does today’s scripture passage encourage you to hope?
  • What are you hoping for? Consider this question on multiple levels...Immediate hopes to global hopes. Tangible hopes to soul hopes.
  • How does it feel for you to hope these days? Does anything make it hard to hope?
  • What would help you to hope more?

Additional Resources:

Illustrated Advent Wreath (pdf)

Advent wreath recommendations we found online

Idea 1

Idea 2

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