Tuesday, December 2, 2008

An Advent Devotional for Individuals and Families

What Are We Waiting For?
An Advent Devotional for Individuals and Families
First Week in Advent

What are we waiting for? Advent is a time of anticipation. We are all waiting for something. For children, it is the excitement of gifts and all the “trappings” of the season. For merchants, it is the hope and the worry of a few weeks that can make or break a year. For others, memories of past holiday seasons mixed with “new family traditions” paint Christmas in complex colors. All, however, share a vague (or not so vague) feeling that we should make more of the season than snow globes and Christmas music at the mall in late October. What are we waiting for? This simple advent devotional for individual people or for families seeks to help us answer this question and to focus our hearts and minds on the answer of Christmas which is the birth of Jesus in history and in our heats.

Preparation for a season of Advent devotional practice:
* Prepare your hearts and minds for your devotional by discussing what it is you will be doing during this time. If you have never set aside personal or family devotional time, it can seem an awkward and uncomfortable practice. Talk (or think) in advance about what you will be doing during your devotions and why you will be doing it.
* If you will be practicing this devotion as a family, make sure that every member has a regular part in the service whether lighting the candles, reading the scripture, praying the prayer etc…Talk about what each person’s role will be in advance so that all are comfortable and invested in the service.
*Prepare a personal or family advent wreath with candles. A family chalice will work as well
*Think about the time, and space in which you will have your devotions and keep to them as much as possible. The dinner table in the late afternoon may be a good option but, of course, everyone’s schedule differs.
*Pray that God may be with you or in the midst of your family before each meditation.

What Are We Waiting For?
The Promise of Advent

November 30th, The First Sunday in Advent: We are waiting for Peace
Gather together in your established place and begin with a moment of intentional silence. Light the first candle of your advent wreath or chalice with these words:

“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace. Who brings good news of happiness and publishes salvation. Who says to Zion, your God reigns. (Isaiah 52:7)

Think about how you can publish peace during each day of the week to come. How can your feet bring good news? Encourage (or think about) simple and practical responses.

Close with a prayer or intentional silence: A simple prayer: (perhaps memorized and led by younger children)
We gather together in peace. May our feet bring the good news of peace to all people today and everyday. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen

If you can, repeat the Sunday devotional, using the same readings and prayers each day of the week following the Advent Sunday devotion. Daily devotional time will help the practice to become part of the fabric of your lives during this season of Advent.
Prayers, poems, music, and much else can, of course, be added to this basic structure depending on your personal or family interests.

May God bless you and keep you. Amen

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