The season of Advent, a season of waiting, is designed to cultivate our awareness of God’s actions—past, present, and future. In Advent we hear the prophecies of the Messiah's coming as addressed to us—people who wait for the second coming. As the world around us rushes toward Christmas and demands instant gratification, the church pauses to experience the waiting of Advent. God is preparing the way. He is an active God who loves and wants to be loved. He is a God who is near and among us. Since we are made in God’s image, God shows us his favor. The first Christians—often called the followers of “The Way”— glorified God by living their lives like Christ. How will we glorify God today?
December 4 “Are You Ready for Christmas?” (Communion)
The Word: Luke 3:1-20
Feel: John the Baptist? Really? He doesn’t fit the Christmas story. Although he did tell people to get ready for Jesus to come.
Know: John prepared the way for Jesus to show God’s salvation by calling people to repent, be baptized, and experience God’s forgiveness.
Desired Outcome: Perhaps the call seems always to be for the other fellow and not for us. Jesus and John kept telling self-secure, religious people that the call to repentance was for them, not someone else. Are you willing to hear God’s call to your life today? He wants to use you right where you are for His purposes!
December 11 “God’s Choices: Mary & Joseph”
The Word: Luke 1:26-38, 46-55; Matthew 1:18-25
Feel: When the Angel came to tell Mary she was going to be Jesus’ mother, she was shocked, surprised and maybe a bit scared. She realized what an important job God wanted her to do.
Know: Gabriel’s announcement to Mary: God is about to be among us. And in this exchange, we catch a glimpse of the mystery, mission, and motivation of Advent. Joseph never spoke, the Bible only tells us that he did what the angel told him to do: he became Mary’s husband and the earthly father of Jesus.
Desired Outcome: What is your mission? Every follower of Jesus is called to engage with God’s mission in the world. We don’t only celebrate a baby in a manger. We follow our Master out of our places of comfort into the lives of the broken.
December 18 “Joy to the World”
The Word: Luke 2:8-20
Feel: What do you do when you get a great present? Do you get excited and show everyone the gift you got?
Know: This is the glory of Jesus! He is the highest, full of greatness and glory. But he humbled himself and made himself the lowest. At Advent, the One who fills all of the heavens and earth with his glory is contained in a manger.
Desired Outcome: Identify two ways that you can more intentionally worship Jesus with your everyday life. Identify one person (or group) that needs to experience the love of Jesus. Follow the pattern of Jesus and reach beyond yourself to the outcasts in your community.
December 24 Christmas Eve “The People and Places of the Nativity”
The Word: Is 40:1-5 and more…
Feel: The story of Christmas is the story of God bringing comfort to his people.
Know: The world looks at places and people of power and prestige—but God displays his power by using the insignificant people and places of this world to accomplish his plan of salvation.
Desired Outcome: Today the work of Jesus continues to shine around the world through his disciples. And that includes us! As followers of Jesus, we carry the light of the gospel into our homes, our communities, our cities, and to the ends of the earth!
December 25 “God’s Christmas Gift to You”
The Word: John 1:1-14 “In the beginning…”
Feel: John doesn’t start the Christmas story telling us about all the characters we see in the Nativity scene. John went out to Jews and Greeks to tell them that in Jesus Christ this creating, illuminating, controlling, sustaining mind of God had come to earth.
Know: Christmas is God intervening into human history, Immanuel, God with us. When we recognize Jesus as the God who lives now, we also discover that we “may have life” now through His name. Immanuel, God with us, God inside of us.
Desired Outcome: The figures in my nativity set were drawn to Bethlehem for different reasons, but God compelled them all. Christ the Savior is born! So what’s your story? God guided each of you, too. Our testimonies display different aspects of His work, but they echo each other. Let the light of the world shine through you so that others may come to know the hope you profess, trusting in Jesus!
January 1, 2023 “The Hope of the Magi”
The Word: Matthew 2:1-12
Feel: The Magi followed the directions of God’s Word to Jesus and submitted to Him as their King. In the year 2023, we follow in their footsteps!
Know: Biblical hope is always tied to Jesus. If we believe and trust in Him we have the hope (certainty) of eternal life. If we follow him, we have the certainty of His guidance, protection, provision and care every day of our lives.
Desired Outcome: The blessed hope is that day when Jesus returns to bring an end to all suffering and death. Jesus came the first time, just as the Scriptures said He would. That’s why we know that Jesus will come again!