Advent is a liturgical practice that has been observed by the church for over four centuries. The word “Advent” comes from the latin word “adventus,” meaning “the one who is on his way.” Each Sunday of Advent is meant to draw our attention to the realities of Jesus coming into our world. We are called to cultivate and align our hearts with those who first waited for the coming Messiah through our own practice of waiting.
In the waiting of Advent we remember and anticipate. We remember what was prophesied, promised, and realized in Jesus, and we anticipate his return, when he will set everything to right. As pastor and author Rich Villodas recently said, “The good news about Advent is not that we are faithful in our waiting but that God is faithful in his coming.”
You can use these Advent Guides by yourself, with your family or roommates, or with your Community.
Candle Lighting (2 minutes)
Commonly in Advent, lighting a candle is used to symbolize Jesus as the Light of the World coming into darkness. So, if you’re up for it, find a candle somewhere in your house. (Note: It doesn’t matter what it looks like or smells like. If you’d like, you can also purchase an Advent candle wreath wherever you get your Christmas supplies.)
Once you have a candle, turn off or dim the lights, light your candle, and have one person read the following prayer out loud:
God of Love,
Your Son, Jesus, is your greatest gift to us.
He is a sign of your love.
Help us walk in that love during the weeks of Advent,
As we wait and prepare for his coming.
We pray in the name of Jesus, our Savior.
Read this Overview (2 minutes)
Though it is often overused and misused in our culture, love is something that we as humans not only desire but need, at both a conceptual and an emotional level; it is the glue to our relational connection and wholeness.
And it’s not just a human thing: God’s base emotion towards us is love. When God looks at us, he brims over with delight and affection. The Scriptures even go as far as saying that God is Love, meaning that the fundamental element making up the Trinity is Love. And so it’s no surprise that love plays a central role in the Christmas story—from Joseph’s protective love for Mary, to Mary’s deep love for her newborn son, to the Father’s love for us in sending Jesus in the first place, love is laced the whole way through. As the people of God, we get to sit in this love, abiding in it, and letting it wash over us. And as we allow it to reach us to our core, we realize that it is our call to embody it, as well.
Watch & Discuss (10 minutes)
For the next part of your time, watch the following video from BibleProject.
Discuss the following question together:
- What is one thing that stood out to you as you watched the video?
Read Scripture (10 minutes)
Next, have someone read 1 John 4v7–21 out loud and spend a few moments in silence afterwards.
Discussion Questions (15 minutes)
Spend some time working through the following questions:
- Where did I experience God’s love this last week?
- Where do I need to experience God’s love this coming week?
- How can I embody God’s love this week?
Practice for the Week Ahead (5 minutes)
For the week ahead, spend some time coming up with a way in which you can embody love to someone. Make it simple, practical, and genuine. This could look like buying coffee for the person in line behind you, sending flowers to someone who is having a hard season, or telling someone what they mean to you. If you’re a kid, it could like doing the dishes for your parents without being asked, giving your mom or dad a big hug, or helping them take out the trash.
Before you finish, take a moment to pause together and ask the Holy Spirit: What is one thing you can do to show love this Advent season?
Finally, set aside a specific time for the week ahead to share with your family, friends, or roommates about your encounters with love: both how you received it and how you gave it.