Advent Guide

New North Church 2017

What is Advent?

 

He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.  -Revelation 22:20

 

Advent simply means “coming” or “arrival.” For centuries the Church has rhythmically celebrated Advent on the four Sunday’s leading up to Christmas Day. But Advent is more than simply the preamble to Christmas festivities. You might be surprised to find out that actually Advent isn’t really about Christmas at all; that is, it isn’t about looking back at Christ’s first coming so much as it is about looking forward to his second.

 

Advent is a time to reorient our souls toward Jesus and anxiously anticipate our King’s return. The whole point of celebrating Jesus’ arrival on earth as a baby is to remind ourselves he will return soon as the ruler of the universe.

 

This Advent we hope you’ll join us in preparing our hearts for that great inevitability!

How to Use This Guide

 

This guide is organized into four weeks of devotional activities, with each week focused on one of the traditional Advent themes (Hope, Peace, Joy, Love).

 

Each week is split up into two sections. The first section, “Personal Study,” includes daily Scriptures for you to read and meditate on related to the theme of that week. Also included is a prayer, which is meant to be prayed each day as an introduction or guide to direct your personal prayers, as the Holy Spirit leads you.

 

The “Personal Study” section also includes a few reflection questions to help focus you on Christ’s second coming, as it relates to the various passages of Scripture. One of these questions also asks you to reflect on the “Advent Story” (testimony) shared at New North Church the previous Sunday.

 

Finally, the “Personal Study” section also includes a couple traditional Christmas songs for you to listen to and consider this week. We encourage you to find a version of the song that you like,  look up and read the lyrics closely, and listen to it regularly throughout the week.

 

The second section in each week of this guide, Family Discipleship, is geared toward helping you pastor your kids and family. We encourage you to read the short passages of Scripture provided out loud together and to do the reflection questions, praying together afterwards based on the prompt provided. This time is also a great opportunity to sing a Christmas song together that goes with the theme of the week. Be sure to explain any difficult words to your kids before you sing together.

 

Finally, the Family Discipleship section includes a weekly activity for families that reinforces the theme of each week. For more ideas of activities you can do with your kids, no matter their age, check out the New North Advent Pinterest page at http://bit.ly/nnadvent.

 

We hope this guide will help you and your family deepen your experience of Christmas this year by helping to prepare for Jesus’ second advent on earth.

 

*All Bible passages are from the NIV translation.

 

Week 1 - Hope

December 3-9

Personal Study

Scripture to read

 

  • Sunday, December 3rd: Genesis 3:8-15
  • Monday, December 4th: Jeremiah 33:14-16
  • Tuesday, December 5th: Romans 13:11-14
  • Wednesday, December 6th: 1 Corinthians 1:3-9
  • Thursday, December 7th: Mark 13:33-37
  • Friday, December 8th: Isaiah 35
  • Saturday, December 9th: Revelation 7:9-17

 

 

Reflection questions:

  • What struck you about this week’s advent story from Sunday?
  • Based on these passages, what are we hoping for as Christians?
  • What are you hoping God will do in your life right now?

 

Prayer

  • Almighty God, who through the death of your Son has destroyed sin and death, and by his resurrection has restored innocence and everlasting life, that we may be delivered from the dominion of the devil, and our mortal bodies raised up from the dead: Grant that we may confidently and wholeheartedly believe this, and finally, with your saints share in the joyful resurrection of the just; through the same Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord.  -Martin Luther

 

Songs for the Season

  • Come Thou Long Expected Jesus (Kings Kaleidoscope)
  • O Come O Come Emmanuel

Family Discipleship

Have one person read the following passages out loud.

  • Genesis 3:8-15 OR the story of “The Fall” in a children’s Bible.
  • Revelation 7:16-17

 

Reflect on what it means to be rescued from something.

  • What is something you might need to be rescued from?
  • How would it feel to be rescued?
  • Say: Jesus came to rescue us from our sins, and will come again to rescue us from every bad thing.

 

Pray

  • Have one family member say a prayer to thank God for sending Jesus to rescue us from our sins.

 

Song

  • Sing one of the “Songs of the Season” together

 

Activity

  • Parents, make plans for a fun Christmas activity. It could be something like decorating cookies, making gingerbread houses, seeing Christmas lights, or watching a Christmas movie. At the end of your family Advent time, tell your kids that you are going to do something that they will love to celebrate advent, but don’t tell them what you will be doing, or when you will be doing it. As the week goes on, give them hints about what you might be doing to celebrate, letting their anticipation and excitement grow. Use this as an opportunity to to remind them of the anticipation God’s people felt as they waited for Jesus, and the anticipation we now feel waiting for Jesus to return.

 

Week 2 - Peace

December 10-16

Personal Study

Scripture to read:

 

  • Sunday, December 10th: Isaiah 11:1-10
  • Monday, December 11th:Matthew 1:18-25
  • Tuesday, December 12th: Luke 2:1-20
  • Wednesday, December 13th: Micah 4:1-5
  • Thursday, December 14th: John 1:1-18
  • Friday, December 15th: 1 Peter 1:3-13
  • Saturday, December 16th: Isaiah 2:1-5

 

 

Reflection questions:

  • What struck you about this week’s advent story from Sunday?
  • Based on these passages, how has Jesus brought God’s peace? What will it look like when that peace is fully realized upon his return?
  • Where are you most desiring to see God’s peace? (it could be in your relationship with God, a personal anxiety, a broken relationship, and/or societal strife)

 

Prayer

  • Fortify me with the grace of Your Holy Spirit and give Your peace to my soul that I may be free from all needless anxiety, solicitude, and worry. Help me to desire always that which is pleasing and acceptable to You so that Your will may be my will.  -St. Frances Xavier Cabrini

 

Songs to listen to and reflect on

  • Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
  • It Came Upon a Midnight Clear
  • I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

 

Family Discipleship

Have one person read the following passages out loud.

  • Luke 2:1-20
  • AND/OR the story of Jesus’ birth in a children’s Bible.

 

Reflect on the significance of Jesus’ birth.

  • What is your favorite part of the story about Jesus’ birth?
  • How do you think Mary and Joseph felt when they had no place to stay? Do you think God knew they felt this way?
  • Is this how you would expect God’s promised rescuer to come?

 

Pray

  • Have one family member say a prayer to thank God for sending Jesus to be born as a baby who would save us from our sins.

 

Song

  • Sing one of the “Songs for the Season” together

 

Activity

  • Make a nativity scene together as a family, and talk about the different aspects of the story of Jesus birth as you create the set. You can use a scene you already own, buy one, create one (there are lots of inexpensive DIY nativity scene plans on the internet), or even build one out of legos.

 

Week 3 - Joy

December 17-23

Personal Study

Scripture to read:

 

  • Sunday, December 17th: Isaiah 9:1-7
  • Monday, December 18th: Luke 1:26-35
  • Tuesday, December 19th: Zephaniah 3:14-20
  • Wednesday, December 20th: Isaiah 52:7-9
  • Thursday, December 21st: Isaiah 60:19-22
  • Friday, December 22nd: Isaiah 61
  • Saturday, December 23rd: John 6:35-40

 

 

Reflection questions:

  • What struck you about this week’s advent story from Sunday?
  • Based on these passages, what is the cause of joy for God’s people?
  • On a scale from one to ten, how joyful have you been this year? How could you harness the joy of God’s salvation and the joy of your inheritance with Christ more fully in this coming weeks and months?

 

Prayer

  • Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay. You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.  -Psalm 16:5-11

Songs to listen to and reflect on

  • Joy to the World
  • Angels We Have Heard On High

 

Family Discipleship

Have one person read the following passages out loud.

  • Isaiah 9:6-7
  • The story of the angel appearing to Mary in a children’s Bible.

 

Reflect on the joy that we feel because Jesus has come.

  • What is something that makes you really happy?
  • How do you think Mary felt when she found out she was going to have God’s Son?
  • How do you think we should feel that Jesus has come? Why?

 

Pray

  • Have one family member say a prayer to thank God for giving us joy by sending Jesus to save us.

 

Song

  • Sing one of the “Songs for the Season” together

 

Activity

  • Go out for a drive or a walk searching for great displays of Christmas lights. Tell your kids that the excitement, awe, and joy that they inspire reminds us of the joy that Jesus brings has brought us, and that these feelings will be even stronger when Jesus comes back one day.

 

Week 4 - Love

December 24-30

Personal Study

Scripture to read:

 

  • Sunday, December 24th: Revelation 21:1-5
  • Monday, December 25th: Isaiah 40:1-11
  • Tuesday, December 26th: Psalm 89:1-4
  • Wednesday, December 27th: Galatians 3:23-4:7
  • Thursday, December 28th: 1 Corinthians 15:20-28, 50-58
  • Friday, December 29th: Colossians 3:1-17
  • Saturday, December 30th: Revelation 22

 

 

 

Reflection questions:

  • What struck you about this week’s advent story from Sunday?
  • Based on these passages, how is God’s love for his people evident in his promises to them? What kinds of things does God promise his people?
  • How does God’s love for you, revealed in Jesus’ first coming and his promise to return and make all things new again, change how you will approach the new year that is upon us?

 

Prayers

  • Almighty God, our heavenly Father, who from your tender love towards us sinners has given us your Son, that believing in him we may have everlasting life; grant us your Holy Spirit that we may continue steadfast in this faith to the end, and may come to everlasting life; through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord.  -John Calvin
  • O Lord my God; Teach my heart this day where and how to see you; Where and how to find you. You have made me and remade me; And you have bestowed on me all the good things I Possess; And still I do not know you. I have not yet done that for which I was made. Teach me to seek you; For I cannot seek you unless you teach me; Or find you unless you show yourself to me; Let me seek you in my desire; Let me desire you in my seeking; Let me find you by loving you; Let me love you when I find you.  -St. Anselm
  • Come, Lord Jesus.  -Revelation 22:20b

 

Songs to listen to and reflect on

  • O Come Let Us Adore Him
  • O Come, All Ye Faithful

Family Discipleship

Have one person read the following passages out loud.

  • Revelation 21:3-5
  • The story of Jesus’ birth in a children’s Bible. Focus on the way the Magi worship Jesus.

 

Reflect on the love that Jesus has for us.

  • Who is one person that really loves you? Who is one person whom you really love? Did you know that Jesus loves you even more?
  • How did Jesus show his love to us? How does knowing Jesus is going to come back help you believe that he loves you?
  • How does it make you feel to know that Jesus loves you?
  • What are some ways we could show Jesus that we love him back?

 

Pray

  • Have one family member say a prayer to thank God for loving us by sending us Jesus, and promising that Jesus will return one day.

 

Song

  • Sing one of the “Songs for the Season” together

 

Activity

  • Read 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 together and talk about what Jesus’ return will be like, look like, and sound like. Then draw or paint a picture of what you think Jesus’ return might be like.