Re-Adventing Advent: Let Go of the Familiar & Find the Divine

Advent

How can you go about “re-adventing” Advent and Christmas in the midst of the unfamiliar, the challenges of 2020? What does this look like for you and your family? If you’re feeling discouraged about your holiday celebrations, hold on. In this video and PDF, we have some suggestions.



That’s the topic we shared with a group of MOPS moms in St. Louis. We were honored to be invited to speak with them for an Advent event. Due to Covid, we recorded a video instead of speaking in person. We thought it might be helpful for others too.

Mary and Joseph in Isolation

In this Re-adventing Advent video, we discuss how Mary and Joseph responded to their unusual situation that first Christmas. Life changed in an instant for both of them. They had to deal with challenging circumstances and outright danger as they were isolated from family and friends and all that was familiar.

We also are having to give up much of the cherished and familiar in our lives this year. Let’s discover what we can learn from their example as we journey through an Advent and Christmas that looks different this holiday season. How can we make it special?

We hope you’ll join us by listening to the video. We’ve also listed some ideas in our Re-Adventing Advent PDF (available at the bottom of this post) that you can download and use through the season.

Ultimately, our prayer for you is that in Re-Adventing Advent 2020, as you have to let go of the familiar, you will find the Divine.

Thank you for journeying with us. If you would like more resources on Advent, you can check out our book Advent-urous, Seeking Jesus This Season and join our Advent Facebook group. We’d love to hear your comments on how you are re-adventing Advent this year. Questions? Contact us here.




Advent: How To Celebrate the Season

Advent

Advent is just around the corner (it starts on November 29), and what better way is there to get our minds off of ourselves (or Covid or politics or …)  than by cozying in with God as we prepare for the arrival of Jesus as Messiah?



Journey with Us

We would like to invite you to journey with us through Advent. This has been a challenging year, and I think all of us could use some time to seek God and prepare our hearts for the holiday season. Mary and I will be leading a group of fellow adventurers on our Advent-urous: Seeking Jesus this Season Facebook group. Simply click on the link to check out the group and join. We’d love to have you. 

We will be using our Advent-urous Kindle devotional book that is available on Amazon. (It happens to be free if you’re a member of Kindle Unlimited.) This is a light time requirement. We have one reading/theme per week (5 weeks total) with suggested activities to explore the theme as little or as much as you’d like over the next seven days.

Activities

Many of our activities are simple and don’t require lots of preparation or resources.

  • For example, for the first Sunday, one of our activities is to try a new prayer posture.
  • Another is to pray by candlelight.
  • There are a few others that take a bit more preparation, but we tried to do a nice mix between the two.
  • If you wish, you can then share your thoughts and activities on our Facebook group page as you journey through the week.
  • For 2020, we’ve updated the book with a poem and a Christmas Eve Liturgy read aloud that you can add to your Christmas celebration with your family and friends if you’d like.

We hope to see you in our Advent-urous Facebook group. Just let us know in the comment section if you have any questions.

Advent Podcast

We wanted to share another resource with you. Several years ago, we recorded an Advent podcast. We hope it also helps prepare you for the season as we delve more deeply into the Christmas story.

Happy Advent!

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Advent Devotional

Advent devotional

What Advent Is All About

Advent is about waiting – waiting for the birth of Jesus. It’s the magical time when heaven intersects earth through the lives of ordinary people who are part of God’s extraordinary plan to redeem the world.



Mary and I have been feeling the nudge to make time and space in our lives to prepare for Christmas by celebrating the Advent season. We’d like you to be part of it, too, by joining us on this Advent “journey.”

Advent Group

We’re introducing our Advent devotional called Advent-urous, Seeking Jesus in the Season. We’ve started the Advent-urous Facebook group and have released the above devotional ebooklet on Amazon Kindle. We’re excited about this opportunity to prepare our hearts for Christmas. Here’s what you can expect from our Kindle devotional:

  • Weekly scripture reading.
  • Five devotional readings, one for each the four Sundays of Advent, plus an extra one.
  • Theme of the week.
  • Weekly prayers.
  • Weekly activities to apply the theme to your life.
  • Optional participation in the Advent-urous Facebook group. In this group, we are encouraging people to post their thoughts and insights about the devotional reading for the week, their Advent prayers, and the activities they did to apply the theme to their life. You can post as many times in a week as you would like.

Advent Is a Season of Hope

As we said, this year we want to be intentional about celebrating Advent with meaning. No matter what your life’s situation is right now, there’s hope. Let’s find it together.

The devotional begins on the first day of Advent, which for 2019 is Sunday, December 1. At any time during the week, you may post in the Facebook group about your experience. As God gives you more insight, or you try multiple activities throughout the week, feel free to post as often as you feel led. We’d also love to hear any new Advent ideas you have on how to apply the theme too.

Join Now

To get started right now, you just have to do two things.

We look forward to experiencing this Advent season with you!

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Follow Along Advent Reading, Day 2

Welcome back to Day 2 of the Painted Advent devotional reading with the Bible app. Here is Day 1 if you missed it and want to catch up.

On to Day 2!

Day 2 Luke 1:39-80

My thoughts: I love how God brings together Mary and Elizabeth. I can imagine they were both reeling a bit from their secrets. How they would have been a support to each other during this time:

  • Mary was figuring out how to handle her pregnancy in a time and culture when an unplanned pregnancy meant being ostracized from society. She also knew that there was a very real possibility that her fiancee Joseph would have every right to divorce her.
  • On the other hand, Elizabeth was probably a bit stunned by her own late-in-life pregnancy, especially since she had been childless for her entire marriage.

I can imagine how these two must have enjoyed their months together, praying and dreaming and planning about their babies.

Waiting on God

The other thing that stands out to me from his passage is that even though God sometimes seems to be silent in our lives, He uses this quiet waiting time to birth His plan.

Four hundred years had passed from the end of the Old Testament to the beginning of the New Testament. During these years, God was completely quiet. No communication between God and the prophets. No messages for Israel.

Meanwhile, the culture had been changing. Greek and Roman influences were foisted upon the Jews. But during this time of God’s silence, He was orchestrating His ultimate plan of the birth of His Son.

Finally, the book of Luke begins with a flurry of holy activity — the visits of angels, the return of prophecy (after that quiet 400 years!), and the births of two long-prophesied babies.

How Does This Apply to Us?

We can use this as encouragement in our own lives. When we have been praying and waiting and God seems silent, we need to remember that plans take time. God’s time. During the waiting we continue to pray, to work, to seek, to watch — for our own flurry of holy activity.

Let me know your thoughts as you walk through this season of Advent.

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Follow Along Advent Reading, Day 1

Shopping, wrapping, baking. Cooking, traveling, caroling. Although Christmas is one of the busiest times of the year, I try to make it a priority to prepare my heart during the Advent season. This year in my search for an Advent devotional, I happened upon a free seven-day devotional on the Bible app that is based upon the paintings of artist Ron Dicianni called A Painted Advent.

I’ve been enjoying this beautiful devotional, and each day as I read, I record my thoughts about that day’s topic. I thought it might be interesting to share my writings each day. If you are also reading A Painted Advent, I’d love if you could add your thoughts in the comment section.

If you’d like, you can make reading your devotion a cozy time. Try lighting a beeswax candle, playing soft Christmas music in the background, or adding whatever you’d like to make it special. Please share your ideas below.

Let’s get started.

Day 1 Thoughts from Luke 1:1-38

Question: What can I learn from Luke 1?

Answer: With God I can expect the unexpected!

How amazing that the two women who bore the most important children in the Christmas story  (John the Baptist and Jesus) were beyond the ability to be pregnant.

Elizabeth was an old woman beyond childbearing years and had been barren all her married life. Mary was an unmarried virgin.

Yet God didn’t let these realities stop Him. He chose these two not for their “fitness” for the job, but because of the fitness of their hearts. 

Luke 1:6 tells us that both Zacharias and Elizabeth “were righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord, blameless.” Gabriel also tells Zacharias in verse 13 that “your prayer is heard.”

And in Luke 1:28 the angel Gabriel tells Mary “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women.” When Mary became frightened in verse 30, he told her not to be afraid for “she has found favor with God.”

How this should give us hope in our own lives! God can do anything as He sees fit, and He saw fit to use an old woman and a virgin as moms in the Christmas story. Because of this, we too can expect the unexpected because God is always on the look for willing people ready to be used by Him. As Gabriel explained to Mary in verse 36, “For with God nothing will be impossible.”

Two words are so important there: with God. With God changes everything.

When we charge ahead in our own strength, we will miss the blessing God has for others and ourselves.

But when we make with God the basis of our lives, dreams, and plans, we greatly expand the effectiveness, the possibilities, the potential harvest because we open ourselves up to His power.

With God opens up the possibility of expecting the unexpected.

What do you think? Share your thoughts below.

 

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Christmas To-doers List 2017: Believe Part 2

Christmas Bible study, Advent Bible study

A little something extra for Believe Him, Day 1! Please read the scripture below. Comment on how you see Ruth exercising her belief in God and what God wants you to believe today. Happy Advent!

Elimelech’s Family Goes to Moab

Now it came to pass, in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehem, Judah, went to dwell in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons. The name of the man was Elimelech, the name of his wife was Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion—Ephrathites of Bethlehem, Judah. And they went to the country of Moab and remained there. Then Elimelech, Naomi’s husband, died; and she was left, and her two sons. Now they took wives of the women of Moab: the name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth. And they dwelt there about ten years. Then both Mahlon and Chilion also died; so the woman survived her two sons and her husband.

Naomi Returns with Ruth

Then she arose with her daughters-in-law that she might return from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the country of Moab that the LORD had visited His people by giving them bread. Therefore she went out from the place where she was, and her two daughters-in-law with her; and they went on the way to return to the land of Judah. And Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go, return each to her mother’s house. The LORD deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me. The LORD grant that you may find rest, each in the house of her husband.”
So she kissed them, and they lifted up their voices and wept. 10 And they said to her, “Surely we will return with you to your people.”Day 1 Believe jpg
11 But Naomi said, “Turn back, my daughters; why will you go with me? Are there still sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands? 12 Turn back, my daughters, go—for I am too old to have a husband. If I should say I have hope, if I should have a husband tonight and should also bear sons, 13 would you wait for them till they were grown? Would you restrain yourselves from having husbands? No, my daughters; for it grieves me very much for your sakes that the hand of the LORD has gone out against me!”
14 Then they lifted up their voices and wept again; and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her.
15 And she said, “Look, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.”

Ruth’s Commitment

16 But Ruth said:
“Entreat me not to leave you,
Or to turn back from following after you;
For wherever you go, I will go;
And wherever you lodge, I will lodge;
Your people shall be my people,
And your God, my God.
17 Where you die, I will die,
And there will I be buried.
The LORD do so to me, and more also,
If anything but death parts you and me.”
18 When she saw that she was determined to go with her, she stopped speaking to her.
19 Now the two of them went until they came to Bethlehem. And it happened, when they had come to Bethlehem, that all the city was excited because of them; and the women said, “Is this Naomi?”
20 But she said to them, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. 21 I went out full, and the LORD has brought me home again empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the LORD has testified against me, and the Almighty has afflicted me?”
22 So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabitess her daughter-in-law with her, who returned from the country of Moab. Now they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest.”

Don’t forget to comment below on how you will continue to believe God today!

Believe Him.

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“Blue Letter Bible – Rth 1: Story of Ruth 1 (Blue Letter Bible: NKJV – New King James Version).” Blue Letter Bible. Web. 30 Nov, 2015. <http://www.blueletterbible.orghttps://www.blueletterbible.org/nkjv/rth/1/1/s_233001>.

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