During the time of Jesus’ birth, much like today, there was great unrest with a census, violence, and political divisions. This year creates an opportunity for all of us to literally be the light in the world.
As the season of Advent draws near. Here are some ideas and resources for small group studies, children’s and youth ministry, and worship to consider for Advent 2020.
Incarnation: Rediscovering the Significance of Christmas: In his new book the Rev. Adam Hamilton helps readers rediscover the meaning behind Christ's birth by examining the different names and titles given to Jesus in the four Gospels. In the face of uncertainty and conflict, Christians reclaim the Christ child who brings us together, heals our hearts and calls us to bring light into the darkness. Now more than ever, we invite you to reflect upon the significance of the Christ child for our lives and world today! "Incarnation" is available in hard cover, large print and e-book formats. Readers can also purchase a leader guide, leader kit, youth study guide, children's guide or DVD. Cokesbury also has a Virtual Advent Kit for churches and/or classes of all ages meeting online.
Almost Christmas: A Wesleyan Advent Experience: With a title inspired by John Wesley’s sermons, “Almost Christmas” encourages readers to experience the season of Advent wholeheartedly. “Almost Christmas” is the collaboration of four writers. Together, drawing on scripture and the writings of John and Charles Wesley, they urge readers to consider God’s gifts of peace, hope, love and joy and move from “almost Christmas” to “altogether Christmas.” Available for leaders of a four-session study are the book, a leader guide, Devotions for the Seasons, a DVD and youth study book. The DVD includes four bonus videos from The New Room in Bristol, United Kingdom, that explore the lives of the Wesleys in the context of Advent. The leader’s guide also includes plans and liturgy for a covenant renewal service and suggests using it at the beginning of the new calendar year.
Light of The World: A Beginner’s Guide to Advent: Amy-Jill Levine, Vanderbilt University professor of New Testament and Jewish studies, dives into the biblical narratives and traditions surrounding Jesus’ birth. Beginning with the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth and ending with the visit of the Magi, Levine explores the relationship of the Gospel narratives to the Old Testament, the important role of women in the story and the historic events surrounding the time of Jesus’ birth. “Light of the World: A Beginner’s Guide to Advent“ can be purchased separately or as part of a kit, which also includes a leader guide and a DVD featuring Levine.
Seeking Jesus, The Advent of Justice and Peace: Advent is a time for church leaders to guide their congregation through a soul-enriching time of reflection, lamentation, anticipation and renewal. This is a new 5-week Advent study includes: sermon starters, lectionary texts, suggested hymns, children’s messages and activities. The study invites us to become co-creators with God of a world where: racial and all other injustices are confronted and addressed, learning and truth-telling are taken seriously, and children learn that spiritual formation and discipleship should stir in all of us a deep yearning to right wrongs, work for social and spiritual change, and seek right relationships with all people. Access resource
Advent: A calendar of devotions 2020: Jenny Smith provides daily devotions for Christians as they prepare to celebrate Christ's birth. This annual favorite is a wonderful resource for churches to give to each family that emphasize the importance of the season. Each day's reading, from December 1 to Christmas Day, is based on the Revised Common Lectionary and includes the Scripture, a short devotion, and a brief prayer. Printed with a larger font for ease of reading. Sold in packs of 10, booklets are designed to fit in a #10 envelope, enabling churches to include them in Advent mailings, and making it easy to share with visitors or others the church wishes to reach during the Advent season. This resource is available in print and e-book formats.
Online Advent Trivia Quiz or scavenger hunt: Check out this online Advent Quiz. Download, print and share this Advent Quiz with your church, family and friends! And spoiler alert: after you take the quiz, you can see all the answers and learn lots more about Advent. Expand the Advent Quiz into a QR code scavenger hunt. Here are some hints to work with QR codes and here is a QR code step-by-step guide.
Advent wreath on a budget: “The 99¢ Advent Wreath” connects children with Christian tradition through everyday, familiar materials from their lives. Unlike a family Advent wreath, this wreath is personal and child palm-sized – just right for a bedside table or desk. Create wreath-making kits and give one to each child in the congregation to make and use at home. Advent wreaths are designed to truly be a child’s own creation and personal contemplative practice for the entire the Advent season. All elements of the wreath kits are available at craft stores or on Amazon. View the materials needed and prayers.
Child of the Light e-course and resources: This e-course, from the Upper Room, filled with lots of resources for worship, devotions and music, invites you to find that quiet center with friends old and new. Enter with Beth A. Richardson into readings and reflections inspired by the season’s carols and hymns. Your spirit will be lifted and your mind quieted. The experience extends past Christmas to Epiphany, encouraging you to live into the joy of Christmas beyond seasonal celebrations. Access course
The Promise of Advent: Amplify Media hosted four webinars to help church leaders prepare for a season of hope during COVID-19. The four sessions included: Worship, Music, and Ritual: Reimaging Advent church services, access here. How will our children cope? Family resources for celebrating Christmas, access here. Preaching in Greif, brining hope to this year of loss and insecurity, access resources here. Rev. Adam Hamilton’s shared thoughts about what inspired him to write Incarnation and why the healing message of the Christ Child is needed this year more than ever, access here.