Celebrating the Season of Advent
Advent is the beginning of the Church Year for most churches in the Western tradition. It begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day, which is the Sunday nearest November 30, and ends on Christmas Eve (Dec 24). If Christmas Eve is a Sunday, it is counted as the fourth Sunday of Advent, with Christmas Eve proper beginning at sundown.
The Meaning of "Advent"
The word Advent means "coming" or "arrival." The focus of the entire season is the celebration of the birth of Jesus the Christ in his First Advent, and the anticipation of the return of Christ the King in his Second Advent. Thus, Advent is far more than simply marking a 2,000 year old event in history. It is celebrating a truth about God, the revelation of God in Christ whereby all of creation might be reconciled to God. That is a process in which we now participate, and the consummation of which we anticipate. Scripture reading for Advent will reflect this emphasis on the Second Advent, including themes of accountability for faithfulness at His coming, judgment on sin, and the hope of eternal life.
Advent is one of the few Christian festivals that can be observed in the home as well as at church. In its association with Christmas, Advent is a natural time to involve children in activities at home that directly connect with worship at church. In the home an Advent wreath is often placed on the dining table and the candles lighted at meals, with Scripture readings preceding the lighting of the candles, especially on Sunday. A new candle is lighted each Sunday during the four weeks, and then the same candles are lighted each meal during the week. In this context, it provides the opportunity for family devotion and prayer together, and helps teach the Faith to children, especially if they are involved in reading the daily Scriptures.
Rethink Church Releases New Advent Sermon Series
Outside the Box is the newest Rethink Church sermon series, and it includes something special for all ages. This four-week lectionary-based series will help you invite others to unwrap the story of Jesus’ birth and include those forgotten, ignored or turned away from life’s inns, so we may welcome all.
The Outside the Box series is a free downloadable resource and is available at www.umcom.org/outside.
An accompanying multimedia bundle ($25) includes videos to make messages come to life, graphics for worship and outreach resources to engage your community. These resources may be edited in Microsoft Word or Adobe Photoshop.
Free shipping (USPS First Class only) is offered on this series. To order, go to www.umcom.org/outside or call 1-888-346-3862.