Today is the first Sunday of Advent, marking the beginning of our Christian year. Advent is a season of preparation, a time for waiting, watching and preparing our hearts and our lives to celebrate God’s greatest gift of love to the world. The focus of this special season of our faith journey is the celebration of the birth of Jesus and the anticipation of the return of Christ the King. Advent is a journey of hope reflected in the many ways the community of faith comes together to rejoice and celebrate the revelation of God in Christ.
The congregation of Faith United Methodist Church has a long tradition of creating an Advent devotion book, written by the people of Faith UMC, designed to lead, guide, and inspire us during this special season of our faith journey. The devotions traditionally begin on the first Sunday of Advent and continue through Epiphany on January 6.
This fall our congregation began a chronological exploration of the Bible called The Story. We’ve spent the past few months in the early books of the Old Testament exploring how our story intersects with God’s story. On this journey into faith we’ve encountered challenges and struggles, hopes and joys. We’ve come upon many questions that help us to discern and understand what we believe and how God is calling us to live as disciples of Jesus Christ in our world today. As we move into the seasons of Advent and Christmas, we continue exploring the Old Testament scriptures that point to God’s plan for redeeming the world.
“For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom.” – Isaiah 9:6-7
To think that the Almighty God loves us so much that he will stop at nothing to be with us and is willing to go to such great lengths to draw us to him, to redeem us and save us is simply incredible. To understand that God wants a personal relationship with each and every one of us, not because of who we are or what we do, but simply because God loves us, is awe-inspiring. To know that Jesus has been born for us so that we might have life is indescribable. To be so transformed by the love and grace of Christ that we can’t help but to share it with others is extraordinary. Share God’s love with others and you will find His love in you. This is overflowing joy. This is God’s story. This is our story. This is the greatest story ever.
It is our hope that you find joy this Christmas season. Sometimes it is easy, sometimes it is hard. But, we do know that God is always with us to give us peace and comfort. Through the writings and the activities and the illustrations in this Advent Book, may you experience joy that will make you smile and remember what Christmas is all about. We have tried to do something different this year. You will see that there is one writing per week. On the following days, we have included scriptures, activities, illustrations, prayers, and reflections to inspire, encourage, and challenge you during the season of Advent to consider how your story intersects with God’s story.
Whether you are a family of one or many, we hope that you can embrace the season with what we have offered in this Advent Book. May God richly bless you and fill you with overflowing joy as you celebrate the birth of His Son, the season leading up to that birth, and the promise that God is with you now and forever.
~Join the Conversation~
Faith’s Advent devotions and activities will be posted here on our Faith Formation Blog, Journey into Faith, as well as on our website, www.faithumchurch.org. (Printed copies are also available if you contact our church office.) The blog will give us the opportunity to share questions and comments regarding this year’s Advent devotions and activities. We invite you to join the conversation as we share our stories on the journey of faith! As you read each day’s devotions or participate in the Advent activities, we invite you to share your experiences. Simply click on ‘leave a comment’ or ‘reply’ to share your story of how God is at work in your life as you are waiting and watching for Christ this Advent!Blessings in Christ, Pam Wig, 2013 Advent Book Coordinator Kathy Schmucker, Director of Christian Education & Spiritual Formation