I would love to hear how others are celebrating Advent this year. I have a two-fold hope in posting this discussion topic.
The first is to encourage each other as we turn our attention toward Christmas by sharing the diverse ways that the Spirit is working across our communities this year. The second is that as we share glimpses of our Advent journeys, we can gather ideas for how we might go about planning Advent next year. (Yes, I know it's a year away, but what better time to plant some seeds in our hearts and minds!)
This Advent, our congregation (First Hamilton CRC in Ontario) has a sermon theme of "Hearing the Good News of Jesus Christ through Isaiah." Throughout these worship gatherings, our goal is to both remember Jesus' birth and to anticipate Christ's return. We've set up our Sunday sermons to reflect on four passages from Isaiah in connection with the traditional Advent candle ideas of hope, peace, joy, and love.
The first Sunday of Advent focused on Isaiah 1:10-20, inviting us to receive the hope of God's promised forgiveness in sending Jesus Christ.
The second Sunday of Advent turns our attention toward the overflowing peace (shalom) that God promises through Jesus Christ as we listen to Isaiah 12.
On the third Sunday of Advent, we will give attention to the joy expressed through Isaiah 43:1-7, as we hear God's promise to bring all of his children home to him through Jesus Christ.
Our concluding Advent message on December 24 brings us to Isaiah 62 with a reflection on God's faithful love in Jesus Christ.
We will then celebrate the coming of God's glory and grace in Jesus Christ on Christmas Day, as we hear the gospel from John 1:14-18 in connection with Isaiah 65:17-25 & Revelation 21:1-5.
Along with our sermon series, I have written a daily devotional for our congregation that helps us journey through Isaiah as we anticipate Jesus' birth and return. We have also included an advent candle lighting as our time of confession and assurance of pardon for each Advent worship service.
If you are willing to post a quick response, I would love to hear what your Advent themes are this year. If you are willing, could you also share any ways that you are engaging your Advent theme beyond the sermon? (Special music, artwork, discipleship or service projects, etc.)