As we approach the month of December we are excited to once again intentionally embrace the season of Advent as a church family! Advent (taken from the Latin for “arrival,” or “coming”) is the annual time in the church calendar where we look back to the first coming of Christ on Christmas and forward to the second coming of Christ when He fully consummates His Kingdom. Beginning this Sunday, November 27th, we will spend four Sundays studying John 1:1-18, meditating on the cosmic significance of the Word becoming flesh. I’m personally very excited for this short series and how it will show us many facets of the beauty of Jesus!
Each year, in addition to an Advent sermon series, we encourage each person in our church to lean into the season for all the personal discipleship benefits the build up to Christmas provides. It is a uniquely beneficial time of year in that our culture already creates spaces for Christmas to be celebrated (parties, cookie decorating, carols, feasting with friends, etc.), and with a little intentionality, this season can be leveraged for our collective discipleship! This year we would like to recommend the following “steps” as a way of discipling our hearts this Christmas:
- Step 1: Choose a devotional.
- Resources for families with young children.
- Resources for adults.
- Step 2: Be intentional, but relax! Commit to engaging the devotional you chose with your spouse, family, roommate(s) or a close friend. Set aside a time each day to quiet your soul and listen to the Holy Spirit’s leading. But, don’t turn this into a burden! Some weeks you may only get to 4 or 5 of the daily readings, and that’s ok. It is better to be intentional with the time you have than to rush to check it off your list. More importantly, expect some devotionals and conversations to only last a few minutes and others to go as long as an hour as you pray and worship! Jesus is the One working, trust Him as you go!
- Step 3: Develop a liturgy, here’s a suggestion. A liturgy is simply an order of worship. A repeated pattern can help your heart enter a posture to receive from Jesus. For example…
- Light a candle: Either follow along with each of the weeks of an Advent wreath or a solitary candle. This symbolic act reminds us we are doing something significant.
- Pray: Ask Jesus to open your heart to receive what He has for you.
- Read: Meditate on the devotion for the day.
- Discuss: Talk with your family or roommates about what stood out to you and how God seems to be working in you.
- Pray: Ask Jesus to help you live out the truths you have just studied.
- Step 4: Celebrate what God has done in sending Jesus and the evidences of grace around you. Look for opportunities throughout the season of Advent to draw your heart’s affections towards the grace of God. When you are reminded of something you learned in your devotional thank God for His sanctifying grace. When you have the chance to love your neighbor or coworker thank Jesus for loving you enough to come to earth. When you see your family member or roommate living out something from your devotional encourage them.
- Bonus Step: Process what you are learning with your DC or a group of friends. Most of our Discipleship Collectives take a break for Christmas, but if you get the chance to gather for a Christmas party or a meal, spend some time sharing how God is working in you and through you this Advent season.