Advent is the beginning of the Church Year for most churches in the Western tradition. It starts on the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day. The word Advent means “coming” or “arrival” and the season is marked by a spirit of expectation, of anticipation, of preparation, of longing. In the journey through Advent we celebrate the birth of Jesus the Christ in his First Advent, and the anticipation of the return of Christ the King in his Second Advent
Historically, the color of Advent in the Church is Purple. This is the color of repentance and fasting as well as the color of royalty to welcome the King. Remembering the Incarnation also brings us to remember the crucifixion. However, more common now is the use of Blue, again a royal color, but also the color of the night sky and the impending dawn. In some Christian faith communities each Sunday of Advent is given a corresponding theme: Hope, Love, Joy (often the color will change to Pink for this Sunday), and Peace.
AT ABBEY WAY
This Advent you are invited to enter into Advent afresh, to step back make space to wait for Jesus and reflect on his coming in our lives. Advent is a season that has become a special part of our corporate rhythm of worship and prayer at Abbey Way. We have discovered as we anticipate the celebration of Jesus' birth each year, we find that He is already incarnate in us, in our hearts, in our households, in our community.
During the Season of Advent, our worship quiets to make space for the repose of winter's waiting. With young and old together, we open ourselves up once again to the great incarnational story of Christ's coming. During worship, our songs turn inward expectation as our hearts turn upwards to remember the promises Jesus' incarnation brings to the world. Taking the place of a preached sermon, this year the adults and youth may choose either a conversation, creative activity, or quiet reflection to in preparation for worship.
10:15: Drop Off Kids; Early Mingling; Set Up
10:30: Opening Prayer and Introduction to the Week's Scripture
10:35: Conversation, Creative Activity or Quiet Reflection for Adults and Youth / Children in learning environments: Nursery; Atrium; Kids' Chapel
11:00. Intergenerational Worship with Communion
11:45. Coffee and Connection in Lounge (Note: First Sunday we gather for our shared meal in the Dining Room.)
More Than Sunday
As important as our corporate experience is, we believe our worship extends to more than our Sunday gathering.
We invite you to think how as a household you can find a meaningful way to step away from the cultural pressures we experience in the run up to Christmas: the busy-ness, the adverts for toys, perfumes, cars, the bright flashing lights and cheap plastic reindeer. To slow down in advent and not speed up. To be present to one another. To journey to Bethlehem so that when we gather on Christmas Eve to welcome the birth of Emmanuel, our hearts are ready, longing to say “God IS with us”.
Below are some resources that may help you as you consider how you and your household journey to Bethlehem this year along with the rest of the community of Abbey Way.
Follow the links below to resources that may help to find words for our waiting, words to invite God’s presence into our lives and to lift up those in need, and actions that bring invite worship through symbols.
Each year it is so easy to get caught up in the advertisements for toys, perfume, sparkly jewelry, the bright twinkling lights and cheap plastic reindeer. This year we invite you to be intentional on how you spend your money. To pause and think, is there a better gift than one from a mall?
God’s gift to us was a relationship built on love. So it’s no wonder why we’re drawn to the idea that Christmas should be a time to love our friends and family in the most memorable ways possible. Time is the real gift Christmas offers us. Time to make a gift thoughtfully and skillfully. Time to write a letter with pen and paper. Time to go sledding or take a gentle stroll through the park. Time to bake cookies filling the house with warm scents. Time to sing Christmas carols and drink hot apple cider together.
Maybe consider getting all your Christmas shopping done by Thanksgiving, just a few days before the first Sunday in Advent. To avoid the lines, the frustrated shoppers. So that Advent would be a time when you can be more present to those around you and to God.
You may decide that the best gift for yourself would actually be a cow for a family in Africa, or a goat, or some chickens. Maybe you could honor one of your loved ones with such a gift. Livestock provides can provide milk, yoghurt and cheese to nourish healthy children. Chickens lay nutritious eggs. Anything extra can be sold along with any young to provide money for other food or education. World Vision have a number of such gift opportunities to bring lasting change to families in developing countries. The Evangelical Covenant Church also has a similar program.
We take water for granted. Throughout one billion people do not have access to clean water. In many places it is a three hour walk away and even then the water could be dirty and disease ridden. The time women and children spend collecting the water or ill is time kept away from caring for the family, or work, or education. A well providing clean water will bring health and new opportunities to a community. Charity:Water builds wells and provides sanitation training. About 18 months after making a donation they will send out a photo, GPS coordinates and information about the well that your money helped to construct. It is possible to set up a campaign page if you are interested in asking friends and family to make contributions towards funding a well instead of buying you a present this Christmas.
To explore further about reframing Advent and Christmas, take a look at the Advent Conspiracy website.
(Abbey Way is not responsible for the content of external websites)