Engaging Advent

“Advent is a season of waiting; we wait for the coming of God. We need him to come. Our world is messed up and we are messed up. We lament our condition and long for God to set things right, to make us better. So we pray and watch for signs of God’s presence… We wait in hope. We believe that something is happening in our world, something is taking shape in our live, something large, light-filled and life-giving. Even in December’s lengthening darkness, this seed of joyful hope grows within us. We are pregnant with it. In our waiting, we are enlarged. God is coming.” (Bobby Gross, Living the Christian Year)

This Advent season I am recommending to our community of faith four diverse ways we can more actively engage the season of Advent and wait in hope for the coming of Jesus, our Savior and Lord. Prayerfully consider which approaches might best help you engage God, one another and our world in these days of preparation.

How will you engage the Advent season and prepare for the coming of Christ?

1) Reflect on Scripture

The practice of Lectio Divina is rooted in the belief that through the presence of the Holy Spirit the Scriptures are alive, active and God-breathed.

Select a passage from the list below and read it through as follows:

  • READ (First Reading): Listen for a word or phrase that captures your attention.
  • REFLECT (Second Reading): Listen for the way in which this word or phrase connects with your life today.
  • RESPOND (Third Reading): Listen for an invitation from God contained in his word to you. Respond honestly to God about what you are hearing.
  • REST (Fourth Reading): Simply rest in the Word of God.
  • RESOLVE: Stay with the word God has given to you. Commit to carry it into your everyday life and continue to discover what it means for you to live it out.

(adapted from Ruth Haley Barton, Sacred Rhythms)

  • Readings for the first Week of Advent: Isaiah 64:1-9; Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19; I Corinthians 1:3-9, Mark 13:24-37
  • Readings for the second Week of Advent: Isaiah 40:1-11; Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13; 2 Peter 3:8 – 15a; Mark 1:1-8
  • Readings for the third Week of Advent: Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11; Psalm 126; I Thessalonians 5:16-24; John 1:6-8, 19-28;
  • Readings for the fourth Week of Advent: 2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16; Psalm 89:1-4, 19-26; Romans 16:25-27; Luke 1:26-38

2) Read Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas

These daily readings are collected from a group of diverse authors like C.S. Lewis, Henri Nouwen, Madeleine L’Engle, Dorothy Day, Jurgen Moltmann and Martin Luther.

Watch for the Light is available from:

Heart and Minds Bookstore OR Amazon

3) Listen to Advent Songs (Sojourn Music)

Advent comes to us in the darkest season of the year – a season when the nights are long, the days are cold, and we look with anticipation for the return of warmth in the spring. These songs, from the Sojourn Community in Louisville, Kentucky, have both a sense of anticipation and glimpses of light dawning in the face of the Christ child.

Available from Sojourn Music.

4) Give to The Advent Conspiracy

Advent is a season to consider both “advents” of Jesus. When Jesus comes again as a victorious King, he will usher in the Kingdom of God with all of its blessings. God’s peace and justice will fill the earth. There will be no more sorrow or tears. People will turn implements of war into tools to produce food, and “nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” (Isaiah 2:4). It’s easy for those of us who live in safety, comfort, and prosperity to neglect a godly hope for the coming of the kingdom and all of its benefits. Yet, this hope can be inflamed within us when we reach out to share life with and care for people in need, for the hungry and homeless, for victims of injustice and oppression, for those who suffer from sickness or sadness. Advent can be a time to touch those in need, not only so that we might share God’s love with them, but also so that our yearning for the kingdom might be renewed within us. (Mark Roberts, Discovering Advent)

This year we will once again join with churches all across our nation in the Advent Conspiracy – an opportunity to worship fully, spend less, give more and love all. Your over and above gifts to the Advent Conspiracy will be used to support these three mission initiatives:

Shepherd’s Heart (Pittsburgh, PA)

What a blessing can come from a hot cup of coffee, a bit of breakfast, a clean bathroom, maybe even a shower with a clean towel ready for your use, or just a place to sit for a while a rest out of the elements!  That is some of what the Shepherd’s Heart Drop-in Center provides to the poor of the city of Pittsburgh.  Six days a week Shepherd’s Heart Fellowship provides these services.  The Word of God is shared through a Bible Study, but the underlying message is a place of refuge where God’s love is evident every day.  The Drop-in Center also distributes blankets and warm clothes. The cost to provide these services is estimated to be $75 per day, including the coffee, heat or cooling, water, electricity, food and all the incidentals they need. How many days can we cover their cost through our Advent Conspiracy giving?

The Gulf Coast Team

In March we will be sending another team into the Gulf Coast to bring real help and hope to people who continue to rebuild their lives in the aftermath of Hurricane Katarina.  We have had a faithful presence in the Gulf Coast since 2005 and our Advent Conspiracy gifts will help our team from CCCSH and Point Park University partner with Habitat for Humanity.

Kasangati Child Development Center (Kampala, Uganda)

The Kasangati Child Development Center (an outreach of Compassion International), located in Kampala Uganda, serves about 350 children with Bible teaching, health screening, nutritious food, opportunities for community service, recreational activities, academic support, and career guidance. The center also provides training and support for the many single mothers or grandparents who are raising these children.  Our Advent Conspiracy gifts will help the staff holistically reach more children and families with the good news of Jesus.

(Please make your checks payable to CCCSH and write Advent Conspiracy in the memo line).

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