new studies, devotions can enrich Advent for individuals, groups
2 – the first Sunday of Advent 2012 – is rapidly approaching, time remains to
sign-up for a month-long e-retreat or choose another
devotional or study to use during the season of preparation for celebrating
in which individuals, families and small groups can immerse themselves in the
words of Mary’s song, think about “living and giving as Jesus did,” explore the
lectionary passages or walk the road to Bethlehem are among the new Advent
resources from Abingdon Press and Upper Room Books.
wreath meditations to use in home worship are among aids available from the
General Board of Discipleship.
available are a one-session study that includes making birthing kits for the
United Methodist Committee on Relief and Advent devotions from the Society of
E-retreat will begin Nov. 30
Singing Mary’s Song: An Advent Message of Hope and Deliverance (Upper Room Books) by John A. Stroman focuses on various lines of Luke 1:46-55
during each week of Advent. The book is also the basis for a Web-based retreat,
which begins Friday, Nov. 30, and ends Dec. 29.
The Upper Room and www.beadisciple.com are collaborating to offer the retreat,
- daily meditations from Singing Mary's Song,
audio reflections and
- opportunity for online
can participate in the retreat without purchasing the book, although
retreatants will receive a discount.
“A Different Kind of Christmas” (Abingdon) is by the Rev. Mike
Slaughter of Ginghamsburg United Methodist Church. It urges participants to
bypass the overspending, overeating, materialism and busyness
that rob the peace and joy of the season and rob Jesus of his rightful role as
the center of the celebration. Those using the study will consider how to begin living and giving like Jesus during the Christmas
season – and to continue all year.
with all ages, the resources include:
- “A Different Kind of Christmas” DVD
with Leader Guide
- A Different Kind of
Christmas: Devotional Readings for the Season (available as print and e-book)
- A Different Kind of Christmas – Youth Study
- A Different Kind of Christmas – Children’s Study
starters and other resources for “A Different Kind of Christmas" produced
for the Rethink Church initiative are available at www.umcom.org/rethinkchurch.
Explore the lectionary readings
Preparing the Way (Abingdon Press) by Sue Mink and Nan Duerling explores
the Advent Scriptures from the Revised Common Lectionary. It encourages
participants to claim the call to prepare their hearts, minds and lives for the
coming of Jesus Christ in his birth and in his second coming. The student book
includes the leader guide.
A silent gift
and groups can explore Silence and Other
Surprising Invitations (Upper Room) by Enuma Okoro. The meditations for each day of Advent look at the
doubts and longings of Zechariah and Elizabeth and the story of how they came
to bear their only son, John.
questions and a prayer challenge accompany each week’s meditations encouraging
readers to reflect on their own experiences of waiting and longing, of grief
and the need for community, and of hungering for God.
Advent story we so often associate with the joy of Christmas actually begins
with deep sorrow and longing. But thankfully, in the kingdom of God, there is
always more to the story than meets the eye,” Okoro writes.
When God Comes
Down (Abingdon) by the Rev.
James A. Harnish explores the meaning of the Incarnation. He encourages
participants to think more deeply about the biblical, theological and spiritual
meaning of the Nativity and apply it to their own experiences. In addition to
looking at the lives of those mentioned in the biblical birth stories –
Zechariah, Elisabeth, Joseph, Mary and Jesus – Harnish also looks at one who
appears in Nativity plays but not the Bible – the innkeeper.
book is available in print and as an e-book.
Travel with Mary and Joseph
Journey: Walking the Road to Bethlehem (Abingdon), the Rev. Adam Hamilton travels from Nazareth to Bethlehem, looking at
the stories surrounding Jesus’ birth, adding historical information and archaeological
for individual or group study during the four weeks of Advent, the resources
- The Journey: Waking the Road to
Journey” DVD with leader guide
- The Journey: A Season of Reflections (devotional guide)
- The Journey youth study (co-authored with Jason Gant)
- The Journey children’s study (co-authored with Daphna Lee Flegal)
“Poor, Young and Pregnant: Mary’s Advent” is a one-session study prepared by Healthy Families, Healthy Planet.
Katey Zeh, project director of Healthy
Families, Healthy Planet, describes “Mary’s Advent” as a unique venture in
Bible study and advocacy. It “focuses on the first miracle of Christmas: Mary's
safe labor and birth,” Zeh emphasizes.
She said the goal of this single-session study
is to connect the stories of biblical mothers, focusing specifically on Mary,
the mother of Jesus, with the realities that mothers around the world continue
to face today.
Healthy Families, Healthy Planet is housed in
the General Board of Church and Society in Washington, D.C.
Scripture, reflections and activities to use when
first lighting each of the candles on the Advent wreath are among the ideas for family worship written by MaryJane Pierce Norton, associate general secretary for leadership ministries,
at the General Board of Discipleship in Nashville, Tenn. Shorter reflections
are provided for relighting the candles throughout the week.
Norton also offers ways to use an Advent prayer
chain, to make a family-blessing jar and the recall the story of the birth of
Devotions in your in-box
“Joy to the World” is the theme for the devotions the Society of St. Andrew will deliver
daily by email. SoSa also offers a devotional booklet to use in congregations
as part of a giving program to support the ministry. Information about the booklet
is available by contacting the Rev. Jennifer Vestal Moore at (800) 333-5497 or Church@EndHunger.org.
The Rev. Kathy Noble, editor, Interpreter and Interpreter OnLine, www.interpretermagazine.org, publications of United Methodist Communications.