Art by Elizabeth Vice

Welcome to the new year! In the church year, what we call the liturgical calendar, Advent is a season of four weeks before Christmas Day. It’s also the beginning of the church year, the time when we reset and restart. Advent is a season of reflection, which, like so much of the church, is countercultural to the way we Americans observe the Christmas season. 

Advent is also a time when we deeply immerse ourselves in the tension of God being here – right here, right now – while also coming again – not quite yet. We hold the beauty of the idea of the incarnation – that God took on flesh and blood and came to quite literally be with humanity – alongside the promise that God will come in the fullness of time to make all of creation new. We stand right here, right now, in the midst of these two ideas. A life with God is nothing if not mysterious. 

Over these next few weeks, throughout the reflective season of Advent and into the celebration of Christmas and through the end to Epiphany, we are going to look at the people in the story of the birth of Jesus. We’re going to follow their footsteps and take a step into their life to see how God appeared right there, right then to them and how God keeps appearing right here and right now with us. Our physical and social locations matter. They mattered to the people who welcome God in the infant Jesus and they matter to us as we both celebrate God’s presence in our lives and actively work for the world that God promises. 

So welcome to Advent, where we watch, we wait, and we celebrate God with us, right here, right now.

Art by Malcolm McCracken

Advent Wreath Daily Prayers

In this season that’s dedicated to waiting, we will look at the aspects of our world that can’t wait – we can’t wait for others to bring hope, peace, joy, and love. We are called to wait and work with God for these aspects that allow humanity and all creation to flourish. We’ll hear ancient promises that God is at work even when we can’t see it.

As a church community, we engage in practices that form us as followers of Jesus and ground us in following him – worship, growth, solidarity, generosity, and community. We tag back to these practices as we commit to leaning into the practice of regular, daily prayer. We suggest reading the scripture on Monday and saying the prayer each day as you light your Advent candles. Further reflections are in the pages that follow. Light, pray, read, and engage in practices that remind us God is here with us – right here, right now.

Week One | Sunday, November 28

Scripture Reading: Luke 1:46-55 (CEB)

Daily Prayer (light one candle):

We light this candle as a sign of hope, a promise that God is with us, right here and right now.

Week Two | Sunday, December 5

Scripture Reading: Luke 1:26-38 (CEB)

Daily Prayer (light two candles):

We light this candle as a sign of peace, a commitment to be messengers of God’s presence wherever we go.

Week Three | Sunday, December 12

Scripture Reading: Matthew 1:18-25 (CEB)

Daily Prayer (light three candles):

We light this candle as a sign of joy, a reminder that even when the future is uncertain, God never leaves us.

Week Four | Sunday, December 19

Scripture Reading: Luke 2:8-20 (CEB)

Daily Prayer (light four candles):

We light this candle as a sign of love, a tangible sign of the mystery that God is with us right here, right now, always has been and will be forever.

Christmas Day

Scripture Reading: Luke 2:1-20 (CEB)

Prayer for Lighting the Christ Candle:

We light this candle to celebrate Emmanuel, God with us. May the fire, heat, and light of this candle send us into the world to share the signs of hope, peace, joy, and love in every part of our lives.

Weekly Reflections

An Advent Reflection on Mary

Mary knew discrimination, poverty, and oppression – and precisely because of those experiences, she was chosen to bring Holy into the world.