Advent 2020

Whether you are coming to our live services or joining us from home, we want to celebrate the hope, peace, joy and love of Jesus this Christmas, 

together as one body.   

What Is Advent?

The season of Advent, the four Sundays before Christmas, was intended to help believers remember the "waiting."  It comes from the Latin word for "coming" or "arrival."


"This structure echoes the old Testament festivals, which always included a specific number of days in preparation for a holy day." -Tamara Buchnan


The church is in a similar situation to Israel at the end of the Old Testament: in exile, waiting and hoping in prayerful expectation for the coming of the Messiah...While Israel would have sung the song in expectation of Christ’s first coming, the church now sings the song in commemoration of that first coming and in expectation of the second coming in the future.


Eventually, the Advent wreath was created out of evergreens, symbolizing everlasting life in the midst of winter and death. The wreath's circle reminds us of God’s unending love and the eternal life He makes possible.


The most common Advent candle tradition involves four candles. A new candle is lit on each of the four Sundays before Christmas. Traditions vary as to what each candle represents, but generally it's hope, peace, joy and love. Occasionally, a fifth white candle is placed in the middle and is lit on Christmas Day to celebrate Jesus’ birth.


(For more information on the history of Advent, visit www.christianitytoday.com or

check out Tamara Buchan's book Seeking The Christmas Lamb )

How Does This Work?

  • Gather 5 candles (5th candle is Christmas Day) before Sunday, November 29th. Check out these ideas to create your own Advent wreath here. 
  • Sunday Start: each Sunday before Christmas, we will light a candle on the Advent wreath at church, and we invite people at home to do the same or pick another night of the week to be your Advent celebration. 
  • Each week there will be an element for you to ENGAGE (a devotional, reading and/or family activity), to WATCH (videos to view connected to that week's theme) and a "Love In Action" challenge to ACT upon.  
  • Post and/or email connect@theadventure.church your completed "love in action" challenge so we can add it to our acts of love jar that we will have on display at church.  Let's show our family, neighbors and community Jesus' love in action.

Week 1: Nov 29-Dec 5

Light the first candle.  God is faithful and out of death He brings life.

Renew us in hope. Thank you, God of promise, God of hope, for bringing light into our darkness. 


Read Jeremiah 33:14-16: "14 ‘Behold, days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will fulfill the good word which I have spoken concerning the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 15 In those days and at that time I will make a righteous Branch of David sprout; and He shall execute justice and righteousness on the earth.' "


Read Isaiah 7:14: "Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call Him Immanuel."


Further Reading: Psalm 62; Lamentations 3:14-33; Romans 8:22-25

HOPE - "Yakhal"

ENGAGE: 

  • Families with young kids go to HOPE Family Table Talk here.  
  • Read aloud book for families: Mortimer's Christmas Manger or Room for a Little One
  • Adults and older kids/teensThe Hebrew word for HOPE is "yakhal.Read & discuss The Bible Project's word study series on HOPE here
  • In the kitchen: Chopped Jr. winner, Daniel Kligmann, along with his sous chef, Pastor Ira, show us how to make caramel corn with homemade caramel. You'll never want to buy it again! Make a double batch of this for family night and drop off some to a friend, neighbor or coworker who needs some encouragement during this season. Watch video here and enjoy!


WATCH: 

  • For 400 years, Israel had waited and HOPED for the promised Messiah. Isaiah's prophecy was fulfilled in that a virgin would bear a son and His name would be called, Emmanuel, “God with us.” Watch as Mary discovers her role in humanity with the miracle birth of Jesus Christ in this short video from RightNow Media here.
  • Hear the history and the secret message in the carol "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" in this short video here.


ACT:  Write notes of encouragement to someone you are thankful for or someone who needs HOPE during this time or may be socially distancing due to Covid-19.  If you'd like to take it a step further and want to sponsor an individual or a family for Christmas, email connect@theadventure.church.

 


Week 2: Dec 6-12

Light the first and second candle.  Thank you Lord, that we have PEACE knowing we are forgiven and that Christ is our Prince of PEACE. Regardless of our circumstances or our situations, you offer us peace that is beyond our  understanding.  


Read Luke 1:76-79: " 'You, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,to give knowledge of salvation to his people by the forgiveness of their sins. By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.' "


And PEACE he leaves with us...


Read John 14:2727 Peace I leave you, My peace I give you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, nor fearful.


Further Reading:

Luke 1: 46-55;  Isaiah 9:6 and 11;

PEACE - "Shalom"

ENGAGE: 


WATCH

  • Use this Advent video illustration to reflect on the Peace that Christ our Lord brings this Christmas season or any time of the year. This video illustration by RightNow Media here shows the miracle of the virgin birth that gave us the Messiah Jesus.
  • Check out this video on what the carol "Silent Night" has to do with the story of the Christmas Truce during WWI here.


ACT:  Our Love In Action Challenge this week: 

Option A: Pick a day this week to do a media fast--what did you notice when all the "noise" of the world was silent...we would love to hear your reflections and how you experienced the Lord in a clearer way...you can email them to connect@theadventure.church (we will keep them anonymous). 

Option B: Or, getting more personal...do you have a relationship that is strained? Ask God to give you courage to reach out to that person in peace. Send a card, make a call, or give a hug to let that person know that you are thinking of him/her and that you care.


Week 3: Dec 13-19

Light all three candles.  Thank you Lord that you have given us new life through your son, Jesus, and that we don't have to live under the burden of our sin.  You are the redeemer!

 .

Read Zephaniah 3:14-15:

"Shout for joy, daughter of Zion!
Shout in triumph, Israel!
Rejoice and triumph with all your heart,
Daughter of Jerusalem!
The Lord has taken away His judgments against you,
He has cleared away your enemies.
The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst;
You will no longer fear disaster."


The Angels & Shepherds were JOYFUL WITNESSES to Christ's first coming; now we, too, anxiously await his second coming with JOY.


Read Hebrews 9:28 "so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him."


Further Reading: Titus 2:13; Isaiah 35:1-10; Matthew 11: 2-11.

Joy - "Chara"

ENGAGE: 

  • Families with young kids go to JOY FAMILY TABLE TALK here.
  • Read aloud for family time,  The Christmas Miracle of Jonathon Toomey or A Night of Great Joy
  • Adults and older kids/teensThe Hebrew word for JOY is "CharaRead & discuss The Bible Project's Advent word study series on Chara here
  • In the kitchen:  This time Ira helps Daniel bakes up a batch of Christmas joy with a great butter cookie recipe.  Use these for your "Love In Challenge" this week (link & recipes coming soon).


WATCH

  • As Jesus Christ our Messiah and King came into the world in a lowly manger, the angels announced the good news that a Savior has been born as shown in this video here by RightNow media.
  • How is the best news in the world found by playing a simple scale on the piano? Find out in here!


ACT:  Our Love In Action Challenge this week: Be intentional about bringing a spirit of joy to others. There are few things more joyful than carolers at Christmas or a sweet treat dropped off by a friend. 

Option A:  Bake a friend or neighbor a bit of Christmas cheer like Daniel's butter cookies or leave a candybar in your mailbox for your mail carrier to find. 

Option B:  Join our group of  mask-wearing and socially distanced carolers going out this weekend.  Meet at the church on Sunday, Dec 20th @ 5pm and bring a flashlight.  For more details, contact Ira@theeadventure.church

Week 4: Dec 20-25

Light all four candles.
 
We continue our reading from last week in Zephaniah 3:17 "He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing." 


How do we know that Jesus came in love and to demonstrate love? 


Read John 3:16-19 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.


And what does this mean for us?

 

Jesus told his disciples in John 13:34-35 "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.


Jesus Christ is the true reason for hope, peace, joy, and love in this season and forever.


Further reading: John 15:9 and 13I John 4:19; Romans 5:8; 

LOVE - "Agape"

ENGAGE: 

  • Families with young kids go to LOVE FAMILY TABLE TALK here.
  • Read aloud for family timeThe Legend of the Candy Cane by Lori Walburg or the classic Gift of the Magi by O. Henry
  • Adults and older kids/teensThe Hebrew word for LOVE is "AgapeRead & discuss The Bible Project's Advent word study series on Agape here.  
  • In the kitchen:  In this episode Daniel & Ira wrap up our cooking classes with an all-time favorite....pigs in a blanket.  Wrap up some of these as you snuggle up with the ones you love this week. (link & recipes coming soon).


WATCH

  • Jesus is the true Shepherd who searches out and finds his sheep among the scattered flock in this video illustration here by RightNow media.
  • If you don't have the book, try this modern adaptation (10 minute film) of O. Henry's The Gift of the Magi  here.

ACT:  Our Love In Action Challenge this week: What sacrifice would you make for someone you love? Demonstrate your love by going above and beyond: 

Option A:  For kids...have them make suggestions (doing a sibling's chores, helping mom or dad with a project around the house or doing an extra chore without being asked by parents) 

Option B:  Shovel snow or help with yard work for a neighbor or an elderly person, commit to volunteering in your community or church in the new year... (Jesus Feeds would love some help! Leave a message at 801-688-7251 if you'd like to volunteer). 

Christmas Eve Dec 24th

Since the moment Adam took a bite out of the forbidden fruit we’ve all been waiting for a Savior to come and put things right again (Gen 3:15). 

We waited during the time of Noah and the flood. 

We waited during the time of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 

We waited during the years of captivity in Egypt and the years of spiritual rebellion in Israel. 

We waited under the good but broken King David and the bad kings who followed. 

We waited in exile in Babylon. 

We waited and waited in the darkness of our sin. 

Then one night the angel Gabriel appeared to a young woman, a virgin named Mary.


Luke 1:30-33 (NIV) 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”


The wait is over. 


The Savior has come. His name “Jesus” means “Yahweh is salvation.” Yahweh is the God of Israel’s special covenant name. Finally, Yahweh has sent a Savior to put things right again. Jesus is the Son of the Most High, a descendent of King David, and one of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob’s descendants. Salvation has arrived.


So then, if Jesus is the Savior, why did it seem like he failed so spectacularly? 

His birth was quite extraordinary. Angels sang and shepherds worshipped but a short life later his body hung still on a wood cross. God didn’t save him. His death was final, or so we thought…


Three days later the earth shook, angels came down from heaven, the rock covering his tomb rolled away, and inside lay nothing but empty sheets (Matt 28:2John 20:7). 


The wait was finally over. 


Salvation had come. Jesus took our death upon himself. He died so that we could live. 


These words from John’s gospel offer hope to us all. 

John 3:16 (NIV) For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.


Now as we light the candle of Christ we thank God the wait for our salvation is over. Our Savior Jesus Christ has come. He came in the birth of a small baby boy, conceived in the virgin Mary, born in a manger, died on a cross, risen from the dead, ascended to God’s throne in heaven. At Christmas we celebrate our Savior’s first arrival and look forward to his second. Jesus will come soon and finally put all things right, but for now we wait. This time we wait not in the darkness of our sin, but in the light of Christ’s salvation, full of hope as we wait our Savior’s return. Merry Christmas.

~

Reading written by Pastor Jonathan Romig from CornerstoneWestford.com.