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Anticipating Advent

Compiled by the Rev. Kathy Noble
September/October 2014

Abingdon Press and The Upper Room have nine new studies and devotional books for Advent 2014. The time of spiritual preparation leading to Christmas begins on Sunday, Nov. 30. Both small groups and individuals can use most of the books. The offerings include a new all-church study, one written by the Rev. Adam Hamilton, a revised look at four African-American spirituals and two encouraging readers to explore spiritual formation practices.

Under Wraps

Under Wraps: The Gift We Never Expected (Abingdon) offers a four-week, all-church Advent experience exploring the character of God described in the Old Testament and revealed through Jesus Christ. Each week focuses on a key word describing a characteristic of God. There is additional material on the theme of joy for Christmas week. The Revs. Jessica LaGrone, Andy Nixon, Rob Renfro and Ed Robb wrote Under Wraps. Available are study books for adults and youth, leader guides, a DVD, a devotional book and worship helps.

 

Light of Lights

Robin Pippin collected Advent devotions from The Upper Room Daily Devotional Guide to compile Light of Lights (The Upper Room). The devotions can coordinate with the themes of hope, love, joy and peace often assigned to the four candles on an Advent wreath. A leader's guide and instructions for making an Advent wreath are included.

 

Mary Had a Baby

Mary Had a Baby (Abingdon) is a four-session study based on African-American spirituals. Written by the Rev. Marilyn E. Thornton and Cheryl Kirk-Duggan, each lesson includes Scripture, song lyrics and contextual information and discussion questions. Free .mp3 files of "Mary Had a Baby," "Rise Up, Shepherd, and Follow," "Children, Go Where I Send Thee" and "Go, Tell It on the Mountain" are available with the book.

 

Not a Silent Night

In Not A Silent Night: Mary Looks Back to Bethlehem (Abingdon Press), the Rev. Adam Hamilton begins with Mary at the Crucifixion and Resurrection and takes her back in time, witnessing Jesus' life and ministry, until she arrives where the story began – in a stable in Bethlehem. The book is available as a hardcover or eBook for personal use or for a five-session group study. A DVD and leader guide are available.

 

Taste and See

The Rev. Jan Johnson offers a small-group study that mixes contextual and imaginative reading of Scripture. Taste and See: Experiencing the Stories of Advent and Christmas (The Upper Room) invites readers to experience the stories of the season with their senses and consider how they speak to their own lives.

 

The Lord Is Our Light

The Lord Is Our Light (Abingdon) is the five-session Advent 2014 study based on the readings from the Revised Common Lectionary. The Rev. A. Elaine Brown Crawford wrote the study that encourages discovering the light that began in the manger and that continues as we look forward with hope to Christ's return. The Lord is Our Light is available as a print or eBook.

 

Travel the Highways of Advent
 

In Travel the Highways of Advent (Abingdon), the Rev. Stan Purdum urges readers to engage in spiritual practices and grow in faith during Advent. Each chapter, based on one of the particular pathways to Jesus, includes discussion questions, a prayer and encouragement to engage in a spiritual practice or do something else specific to grow in faith. The study is available in print or as an eBook.

 

Advent: A Calendar of Devotions 2014

The Rev. James W. Moore wrote the 2014 Advent: A Calendar of Devotions (Abingdon). Each includes a Scripture reading and a Bible verse, a brief message and a prayer. The collection of devotions is available as a print booklet or as an eBook.

 

All I Really Want

All I Really Want: Readings for a Modern Christmas (Abingdon) by the Rev. Quinn Caldwell offer readers harried by the season the opportunity to make room for God to show up. Hope-filled writings accompany the prayers for each morning and evening of Advent. The print and eBook include a calendar with one easy task to do each day.

Compiled by the Rev. Kathy Noble, editor of Interpreter and Interpreter Digital.

Planning Ahead

Imagine No Malaria: The goal of The United Methodist Church to raise $75 million to end suffering from malaria in sub-Saharan Africa is in sight. As of early August, $63 million – more than 82 per cent -- had been raised, the death rate halved and many congregations had found new life as they came together to support the effort. Resources to encourage giving during Advent and Christmas will be available this fall at www.imaginenomalaria.org.

UMC #Giving Tuesday: The international movement builds on the post-Thanksgiving shopping traditions in the United States by designating a day for giving. UMC #GivingTuesday donors can give through The Advance, one of The United Methodist Church's designated giving channels, to support any of more than 850 organizations vetted by the General Board of Global Ministries with 100 per cent of any gift going to the designated project. Learn more at www.umcmission.org/advance.

Rethink Church: National advertising supporting local churches' outreach and invitations during Advent will launch Monday, Nov. 17. Resources available for congregations include a sermon starter, bulletin covers and invitation cards. For a limited time, churches can receive 100 free door-hangers printed with their information. Items must be ordered by Nov. 1 to arrive by Thanksgiving. Learn more at www.umcom.org/rethinkchurch.