Advent Devotion Guide 2021: The Prophets Foretold

Home   Advent Devotion Guide 2021: The Prophets Foretold

Haller Lake United Methodist Church

2021

This year, as a church, we will have a daily devotion during the season of Advent. This resource and the supporting materials are provided to you so you can participate in the way that is most helpful to you.

How to Use this Resource

Each page is set up with a practice and an image at the top. Below the image, more information and additional resources are provided. Use as much or as little of each page as is helpful to you.

When you see red text, that indicates an item that is provided for you in the Advent kit.

If you wish to use the materials during the season individually, that is a beautiful way to engage in the season of waiting. The daily reflection questions may be a guide for journaling if that is fruitful for you. If you wish to be part of a small group that gathers by Zoom or another way to share the devotions on a regular basis, they can be shared in this way. If weekly devotions are more appropriate for you, you can use the days of the week as a menu from which you can choose.

However you participate, or if you choose not to participate in the devotional materials provided for use by our congregation, we hope that this Advent will be a season during which you can experience one more time, the coming of the Christ in your life for this time. Blessed Be.

Sunday 11/28 First Sunday of Advent

Spiritual Practice of Song: “Hail to the Lord’s Anointed” (UMH 203)

Listen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EkrepBvrLI4

Reflect: In what ways does a branch resemble its root? In what ways does Jesus’ life and ministry come forth from the generations before him? In what ways does your life proceed from your family tree? In what ways has God brought forth something new in you?

For More:

Lyrics to the first verse of the hymn for your reflection:

Hail to the Lord’s Anointed, great David’s greater son!

Hail in the time appointed, his reign on earth begun!

He comes to break oppression, to set the captive free;

To take away transgression, and rule in equity.

SCRIPTURE: Jeremiah 23:5-6

“The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will raise up for David[a] a righteous Branch,
a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land.
In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety.
This is the name by which he will be called: The Lord Our Righteous Savior.

PRAYER: God of our ancestors and fore-runners, help us to know and treasure the prophets and saints of old who have formed our faith and inspired us by their example. Amen

Monday 11/29

Spiritual Practice: meditation using a branch

Find a comfortable seat where you can see or otherwise observe the branch from your Advent kit or another branch from a tree or plant. It can be cut or still attached to the live plant. Notice how the parts of your branch are connected.

Slowly, name each part of the branch you are observing. The names you use can be descriptive or scientific. They can be colorful or creative or clinical. In whatever way makes sense to you, call to mind how one part is dependent on the other parts, yet different and distinct.

Take time with your branch to note if you find one part of the branch to be particularly interesting or curious, or possibly beautiful or useful. If there is one part of the branch that your attention is drawn to, take a little more time with it and note specifically for it, how it is distinct from the other parts and yet connected.

If you are comfortable doing so, imagine any ways that this branch or part of it might illustrate any connections that are also true for you, within your family, within your support network, within your church, within your community.

Know the ways that you are distinct and beautiful to God, yet connected. Rest as long as you would like in this awareness.

For More:

SCRIPTURE Suggestions: Romans 15:13; John 14:26; Jude 20-21

PRAYER: Holy Spirit, we watch for Christ to come. Throughout many generations, your people have waited for and then received our promised Savior. But it is you, our Advocate, who makes the Savior live in and through us, who connects us to the generations who have come before and will come after. While we wait this year, we rely on you to keep us faithful, humble, and connected to do God’s will in all our days. Amen

Tuesday, November 30

Spiritual Practice of drawing: Using crayons, markers, pencils, pens, or whatever drawing tools you have available, create a version of one of these images:

  • Color in the tree image in your Advent kit
  • Your own family tree
  • A spiral depiction of the promises of prophets from the Hebrew Scriptures, the promises of the coming of the Christ at the close of Advent, and the promises of God in your own life
  • Your own choice of images or designs for the season

For More:

SCRIPTURE Suggestions: 1 Corinthians 15:23; Revelation 22:20

PRAYER: Risen Christ, help us to hold fast to your promise to come again and, as we wait, may our lives be as a sign to others of your love and justice and forgiveness. Amen

Wednesday, December 1

Spiritual Practice of moving meditation: During Advent, we “wait” upon God. To engage in a moving medititation using the concept of waiting, find a comfortable place to stand or sit where you have space to move your arms freely from your sides to a position that is easily reached, possibly over your head but, at some point higher than at your sides.

Begin with your hands at your sides and take a few breaths there. Feel the weight of your arms as they hang to your sides. As you wait to begin moving them, notice how they feel, if there is any sensation that you can detect, whether it’s a temperature, a discomfort, or a desire.

During an inhale, begin to move your arms out to your sides. Let go of any sense that there might be a right way or a wrong way to do this motion. Just move your arms until they are as high as you can comfortably lift them.

When they reach that point, again, pause and wait for a breath. Feel your arms again and notice any sensations you experience. If you are feeling pain, lower your arms.

Otherwise, wait until your next inhale and then slowly lower your arms. When your arms reach your sides, wait there again.

Try repeating this motion a few times. Each time you get to a place where you can comfortably wait, notice what is happening in your arms as well as in your mind, heart, and spirit. Is waiting comfortable or uncomfortable? Stay with this practice as long as you wish.

For More:

SCRIPTURE Suggestions: Psalm 38:15; Psalm 123:2

PRAYER: Lord God, help us to fix our attention on you and wait for your intention for us. Lead us in this time of extended waithing with you. Amen

Thursday, December 2

Spiritual Practice of Poetry: Write a poem about God’s love in a familiar form or without a set form.

Reflect:  Love is one of the human experiences that can’t be measured or quantified easily. It’s so real to our lives, yet intangible. We are told that God’s love became human at Christmas. Using the love poetry in the Song of Solomon, or other love poetry that speaks to your experience of love, reflect on the love of God for God’s people. How do you experience God’s love? Is the coming of God’s love in this season unique for you? How so?

For More:

Scripture Suggestions: SCRIPTURE: Song of Solomon 2:1; Jeremiah 2:2; Isaiah 62:5; Matthew 9:15;   John 3:29; Numbers 24:17a.

PRAYER: God of Love, in these days of preparation, help me to ready my home, my heart, my mind, and my soul for the Love that is on the way to Bethlehem. Amen

Friday, December 3

Spiritual Practice of Giving

Locate and prepare the apple cider in your Advent kit. Take time to smell it before you taste it.

On this first Friday of Advent, as we work with the metaphor of the branch, consider what would be a life-giving gift for a tree. You may know the story by Shel Silverstein called “The Giving Tree,” in which the tree continued giving in new ways during the entire lifetime of the boy in the story. Consider what the boy could have given to the tree, perhaps in the form of a prayer, some water or fertilizer, a visit from an arborist, a monetary donation to an organization that protects habitat, or something else. Consider making such a gift today, in gratitude for the trees that are part of our Advent celebrations.

For More:

Scripture Suggestion: 2 Corinthians 9: 10-15

Reflect

For many, giving gifts is a huge part of how we know it’s Advent. On Fridays during this season, we will work with the idea of giving gifts as a spiritual practice to reclaim this tradition for our faith life. Gift giving looks very different for different people, depending on the size of their family, the relationships they have with those who are close to them, and their budget. The spiritual practices for Fridays are intended to be adaptable to each person’s context, and may be interpreted in many ways. If you find that this is not true for you, please repeat the devotion from one of the earlier days of the week instead of trying to give beyond your means in a way that is not life-giving for you.

Saturday, December 4

Spiritual Practice of a breath prayer: We wait with longing for the Lord. Our breath can be a guide for us as we wait. Choose two lines from the Scripture below or from one that you have used this week and use them as a breath prayer. As you inhale, repeat aloud or in your mind the first line and as you exhale repeat the second line. Adjust the speed of your breathing to fit the lines you have chosen so you can comfortably say the words to yourself in the time that it takes you to inhale and exhale.

For more:

Scripture Suggestion: Psalm 80: 8-11

You brought a vine out of Egypt;
    you drove out the nations and planted it.
You cleared the ground for it;
    it took deep root and filled the land.
10 The mountains were covered with its shade,
    the mighty cedars with its branches;
11 it sent out its branches to the sea,
    and its shoots to the River.

Sunday, December 5

Spiritual Practice of Song: “Blessed Be the God of Israel” (UMH 209)

Listen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bhESwlDgVbc

Reflect: What message of liberty does God have for you this Advent? In what ways do you desire this message? Are there ways that you resist it?

For More:

Lyrics to the first verse of the hymn

Blessed be the God of Israel who comes to set us free

            who visits and redeems us, and grants us liberty.

            The prophets spoke of mercy of freedom and release;

            God shall fulfill the promise to bring our people peace.

SCRIPTURE Suggestion: Malachi 3: 1-2

“I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty.

PRAYER: God of our ancestors, help us to hear anew your ancient promise of peace. Free us from the bondage of desire and release us into new life in you. Amen

Monday, December 6

Spritual Practice of meditation on the metaphor of the message: Find a place where you can comfortably sit or stand. Locate the message that came in your Advent kit. Before you open it, feel it in your hands. How would you describe it’s feeling? Is there anything else you can notice about it before you open it? What are your feelings about the message that may be inside? Are you hopeful? Expectant? Dreading what it might say?

Once you have identified your own feelings, you are ready to open the message. Read it slowly. Consider reading the message out loud. Try it out softly and loudly. Try setting it to a rhythm.

Does it seem like a message for you? Does it seem like a message that you could deliver to someone else? Does it mean anything to you?

Rest in this awareness as long as you wish.

For More:

SCRIPTURE Suggestion: Isaiah 40:3,5

PRAYER: Lord God, we are small and you are great. And yet we desire to make ourselves ready to receive you. We long to rejoice in your coming. Reveal your glory to us, we pray. Amen

Tuesday, December 7

Spiritual Practice: Using craft supplies, mediating with visual art

Using paints, oil pastels, clay, cookie dough, or whatever creative tools you have available, create a version of one of these images:

  • Color in the road image in your Advent kit
  • Your own spiritual journey on a road map
  • A spiral depiction of the promises of prophets from the Hebrew Scriptures, the promises of the coming of the Christ at the close of Advent, and the promises of God in your own life
  • Your own choice of symbols or designs for the season

For More:

Scripture Suggestions: Philippians 4:4-5; Psalm 70:4

Reflect: What message have you received as a result of the road you have traveled? Has that message been from God? How did you know?

Wednesday, December 8

Spiritual Practice of Moving Meditation: In Advent, we practice being led by God’s Spirit until the Savior comes and all nations praise the Lord. For today’s moving meditation, you will need a labyrinth. You may use the paper finger labyrinth included in your Advent kit or come to the church and walk the full size labyrinth to the south of the main entrance. You may wish to choose a question to hold in mind as you move. As you proceed with your finger or your feet through the pathway marked on the labyrinth, consider where God is leading you in this time. When you reach the center of the labyrinth, call to mind again your question. Your labyrinth journey may end at the center or you may wish to walk or trace your way back out as you came in.

For More:

SCRIPTURE: Psalm 22:27-31

PRAYER: Saving God, only you can know what it is to be in eternity with you—“our glorious goal.” But we move in faith together with you, trusting in the journey on which you lead. Amen

Thursday, December 9

Spiritual Practice: We long for a messenger from God who will bring justice and peace.  Consider writing your own poem about God’s messenger of justice in a familiar form or without a set form.

Reflect: When we are confronted with the injustice present in our way of live, we know there is a promise of something different. How do you experience God’s call for justice as part of our call during Advent to allow Christ to come anew through us?

For More:

SCRIPTURE Suggestions: Psalm 72:1-4, 8-9, 12-14

PRAYER: Lord of All, give us your justice, give us your righteousness. Use us to bring about your justice and your peace. Amen

Friday, December 10

Spiritual Practice of Giving:

Locate and unwrap the Dove chocolate in your Advent kit. Read the message on the wrapper as the beginning of your meditation today.

On this second Friday of Advent, as we work with the metaphor of the message, consider what message would be life-giving for someone in your life to receive. Perhaps there is a message of gratitude that you could write and send in the mail to someone who has helped you. Perhaps there is a phone call that you could make to express what you have seen God doing or bringing forth in another. Perhaps there is a message that you could send in support of the work of someone or some organization during this season. Consider making a gift today that will allow someone or some group of people to hear a message that is life-giving for them. 

For more:

Scripture Suggestion: Revelation 21: 5-6

And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Then he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life. 

Reflect: For many, giving gifts is a huge part of how we know it’s Advent. On Fridays during this season, we work with the idea of giving gifts as a spiritual practice to reclaim this tradition for our faith life. Gift giving looks very different for different people, depending on the size of their family, the relationships they have with those who are close to them, and their budget. The spiritual practices for Fridays are intended to be adaptable to each person’s context, and may be interpreted in many ways. If you find that this is not true for you, please repeat the devotion from one of the earlier days of the week instead of trying to give beyond your means in a way that is not life-giving for you.

Saturday December 11

Spiritual Practice of a breath prayer: We wait with longing for the Lord. Our breath can be a guide for us as we wait. Choose two lines from the Scripture below or one of your favorites and use them as a breath prayer. As you inhale, repeat aloud or in your mind the first line and as you exhale repeat the second line. Adjust the speed of your breathing to fit the lines you have chosen so you can comfortably say the words to yourself in the time that it takes you to inhale and exhale.

For More

Scripture Suggestions: Matthew 6:33; 7:7; Psalm 86:11

PRAYER: O Lord, we know that if we call on you, you will hear us. Help us to live in your righteousness so you can show us your way and your truth. Amen

Sunday December 12

Spiritual Practice of Song: “Wild and Lone the Prophet’s Voice” (TFWS 2089)

Listen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LSExG5cVIPo

Reflect: In a time when you felt outcast or isolated, what was your deepest desire? What would it have meant to be gathered to God? Was there shame that you felt? Can you imagine any shame being turned to praise? What is required on the part of God’s people to experience such reversal?

For more:

Words to the first verse of the hymn:

                        Wild and lone the prophet’s voice echoes through the desert still,

                        calling us to make a choice, bidding us to do God’s will:

                        “Turn from sin and be baptized; cleanse your heart and mind and soul.

                        Quitting all the sin you prized, yield your life to God’s control.”

Scripture Sugestion: Zephaniah 3: 19

God says:

And I will save the lame
    and gather the outcast,
and I will change their shame into praise
    and renown in all the earth.

PRAYER: Holy God, be with us in your time of reversal. Help us to know where you are inviting us to turn from what has been to what will be. Amen

Monday, December 13

Spiritual Practice of meditation on the metaphor of a sand tray: John’s ministry was a ministry that called people to repent or turn their lives around. It was a ministry that invited people into the experience of God’s reversals, that we find throughout the Scriptures. To explore the theme of reversal more fully, locate the tray and sand that is in your Advent kit. Begin by spreading the sand in the tray. You may wish to use your fingers, a small brush, or even a fork to help spread the sand and later to make patterns in it.

When the sand is spread out, notice if there are any patterns in its surface. Using your finger, brush, or fork, make a path in the sand. Call to mind any path that you may understand in your own life. The path you trace in the sand may be curved or straight. It may be bumpy or flat.

As you approach the edge of the tray, consider a reversal in your path. See if you can continue tracing a path, but in another direction. The change may be abrupt or gradual. As you consider the sand path you are making, call to mind any reversals you feel God may be inviting in your own life.

Feel free to spread the sand back out and try again if you wish or keep adding new paths to your sand until you feel you have explored what you wish to explore about the theme of reversal in your sand tray.

For More:

Scripture Suggestion: Luke 3:15-17

PRAYER: Saving Lord, help us to hear your theme of reversal in the Advent story. Help us redirect our paths toward all that units us with you so that, like John, we may prepare our hearts to behold the coming of Christ. Amen

Tuesday, December 14

Spiritual Practice: Using craft supplies and meditating on visual art

Using paper and scissors, paper clips, staples, brads or whatever flexible tools you have available, create a version of one of these images:

  • Engage with the crossroads image in your Advent kit
  • Bend a paperclip into a shape that speaks to you of a question you are discerning.
  • A spiral depiction of the promises of prophets from the Hebrew Scriptures, the promises of the coming of the Christ at the close of Advent, and the promises of God in your own life
  • Your own choice of symbols or designs for the season

For More:

Scripture Suggestions: Jeremiah 6: 16

Thus says the Lord:
Stand at the crossroads, and look,
    and ask for the ancient paths,
where the good way lies; and walk in it,
    and find rest for your souls

Prayer: Guide us O God in your ways and your times. Ready us for what you will bring. Amen.

Wednesday, December 15

Spiritual practice of moving meditation:

Find a comfortable seated or standing position where your feet can be flat on the ground. Try to spread your toes out as far to the left and right as you can spread them. Notice if there is weight resting in the balls of your feet or in the heels of your feet.

Whether you are standing or seated, begin gently moving your feet so the weight that you have in them sifts from the balls to the heels and back again. Consider the time it takes you to fully inhale as approximately the time that you would take to shift from toes to heels and the time it take you to fully exhale as approximately the time that you would take to shift from heels back to toes.

No part of your foot needs to be lifted off the ground at any time during this very small movement, unless that is more comfortable for you. Your toes may want to lift off the ground at some points, or they may not.

As you rock back and forth from balls of the feet to heels and back, repeatedly, allow your attention to be beneath your feet. Notice the tiny space between your foot and the floor that may be the thickness of your sock or shoe or slipper, if you are wearing one, or the thickness of your carpet if your feet are on carpet, or may be even smaller if you are barefoot on a hard floor.

Just above the tiny space between you and the floor, become aware of the movements of your foot that are necessary to bring about the reversal from heel to ball of the foot and back again. Notice how the floor or the ground beneath your feet supports you in these reversals.

Know that God supports you in this way in the larger reversals of your life. Become aware of any emotions you experience in response to this support from the floor, the space between your foot and the floor, the movements of your foot, and in response to God.

For More:

Scripture Suggestion: 1 Samuel 2

Thursday December 16

Spiritual Practice of Poetry: Write a poem about God’s promise for you in a familiar form or without a set form.

Reflect: What parts of God’s promise are new for you this year? What parts are the same as they have always been? How do you understand God’s promise for you or for someone else?  

For More:

Scripture Suggestion: Psalm 24

PRAYER: God of our salvation, we know that the earth is yours. We know that you will meet us in your holy place if we but open our hearts to you. Bless us as we come before you now. Amen

Friday, December 17

Spiritual Practice of Giving:

As you begin today, consider if there is a way that you can observe a non-human animal or a plant. Perhaps a pet or a bird out the window or even a spider in a corner. Maybe a house plant or a tree you can see nearby. What do you observe? What does the animal or plant do? Can you see it breath? Can you recognize any reasons for it to do what it does? Would you characterize any of its actions as transformative? Why or why not?

On this third Friday of Advent, as we work with the metaphor of the reversal, consider what reversal God may be calling you to participate in during this season and whether there is a gift that you could make that would begin such a transformation. Perhaps there is an act of random kindness that you could perform today as a gift to someone who is overwhelmed or experiencing grief. Perhaps there is a social justice issue on which you feel called to take action to bring about a reversal in the pursuit of justice. Would a donation in someone’s honor be a gift to them that also works for this reversal?  

For More:

Scripture Suggestion: Romans 12: 1-2

Reflect: For many, giving gifts is a huge part of how we know it’s Advent. On Fridays during this season, we will work with the idea of giving gifts as a spiritual practice to reclaim this tradition for our faith life. Gift giving looks very different for different people, depending on the size of their family, the relationships they have with those who are close to them, and their budget. The spiritual practices for Fridays are intended to be adaptable to each person’s context, and may be interpreted in many ways. If you find that this is not true for you, please repeat the devotion from one of the earlier days of the week instead of trying to give beyond your means in a way that is not life-giving for you. If it’s valuable to you, consider how gift giving might be transformative in the best possible way? What are the risks in thinking of gift giving as transformative?

Saturday, December 18

Spiritual Practice: Breath Prayer

We wait with longing for the Lord. Our breath can be a guide for us as we wait. Choose two lines from the Scripture below or one of your favorites and use them as a breath prayer. As you inhale, repeat aloud or in your mind the first line and as you exhale repeat the second line. Adjust the speed of your breathing to fit the lines you have chosen so you can comfortably say the words to yourself in the time that it takes you to inhale and exhale.

For More:

Scripture Suggestion:

Isaiah 61:1-4

The spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
    because the Lord has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed,
    to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
    and release to the prisoners;
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,
    and the day of vengeance of our God;
    to comfort all who mourn;
to provide for those who mourn in Zion—
    to give them a garland instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
    the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    the planting of the Lord, to display his glory.
They shall build up the ancient ruins,
    they shall raise up the former devastations;
they shall repair the ruined cities,
    the devastations of many generations.

 Sunday, December 19

Spiritual Practice of Song: “To a Maid Engaged to Joseph” (UMH 215)

Listen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CxRHmKchJAY

Reflect: For what are you waiting today? What is your experience of waiting? Are you patient or impatient? Are you anxious or calm? Are there preparations you have yet to make? What can you empty from your mind, attention, or to-do list so that you are fully ready when the waiting is complete? Where do you need help in your waiting?

For More

Words to the first verse:

                        To a maid engaged to Joseph, the angel Gabriel came.

                        “Fear not,” the angel told her, “I come to bring good news,

                        good news I come to tell you, good news, I say, good news.

Scripture Suggestion: Micah 5:3-5a

Therefore he shall give them up until the time
    when she who is in labor has brought forth;
then the rest of his kindred shall return
    to the people of Israel.
And he shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the Lord,
    in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
And they shall live secure, for now he shall be great
    to the ends of the earth;
and he shall be the one of peace.

PRAYER: God of our waiting, teach us to be bearers of that which you are bringing forth through us. Help us to savor each moment of these final days before the Christ child comes among us again in our lives, this year. Amen

Monday, December 20

Spiritual Practice: Meditating with seed paper

Locate the seed paper in your Advent kit. Hold the seed paper in your hand. The seed paper may remind the one who receives it of the ways that God is inviting God’s people to be ready for new life to come into this world during this season. Consider whether you are giving someone a gift in this season that could be wrapped in the imagery of planting seeds that will come to life in a future season. If so, take this time to use the seed paper to wrap the gift. If not, consider whether you would like to plant the seed paper either in a pot now or in the spring outside. Whether you are keeping the seed paper, planting it, or giving it away, pause with the paper and imagine where it will be and what it might become in the fullness of time. Rest as long as you wish with this creative image.

Reflect: What are the seeds that are being planted now which will grow in the spring?

For More

SCRIPTURE: Psalm 126:4-6

PRAYER: O Lord, show us how to prepare our lives and our hearts so that the seeds you plant there will grow abundantly and become fruitful in their season. Amen

Tuesday, December 21

Spiritual Practice: Using craft supplies and meditation with visual art

Using puzzles, games, toys, family traditions, or any intuitive tools you have available, create a new option using one of these ideas:

  • Find your own, possibly unexpected, solution through the Advent maze in your Advent kit
  • If you or your family uses an Advent calendar, hide something unexpected in it and see who notices.
  • A spiral depiction of the promises of prophets from the Hebrew Scriptures, the promises of the coming of the Christ at the close of Advent, and the promises of God in your own life
  • Your choice of new solutions for a challenge in a game, recipe, or puzzle that you enjoy during the season

For More

Reflect: As you move through a maze, game, or puzzle, how do you see your way forward? Is it visual or do you have other senses involved? In life, how do you find your way forward?

Scripture Suggestion: Luke 5:17-26

Wednesday, December 22

Spiritual Practice of Moving Meditation:

This week, we hear of the unexpected becoming expected. This moving meditation will be set to music and may lead you to unexpected places. Consider using this recording of Bob Marley’s Redemption Song (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yv5xonFSC4c) or this recording of But Who Can Abide The Day of His Coming from Patti Austin’s Soulful Messiah (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TewE8cH4vHc) as you engage in moving meditation.

As you listen to this music or other music of your choice, allow your body to respond in space. Perhaps you will begin tapping your toe or waving of your arms as if you are directing the musicians.

If moving with the music is particularly challenging for you, try to identify some pattern in the music and breathe with the pattern, noting that your breath is inviting movement in your body in time with the music. If movement is your preferred way to pray, perhaps you will develop a full body dance from your own imagination.

In any case, when you hear a repeated theme in the music, see if one part of your body also repeats its motion. If the music is familiar, challenge yourself to hear it as if for the first time. If it is not familiar, challenge yourself to connect to the themes as you hear them. Through whatever movement you find yourself engaged in, pay attention to how you respond to the music. Note your emotions as well- if they are similar to the emotions that are expressed in the music or if you have other emotions. Note whether this practice has led you into any unexpected experience of Advent.

For More:

Scripture Suggestion: Luke 1:30-35

PRAYER: Lord God, help us to recognize and seize upon unexpected, life-affirming moments. Amen

Thursday, December 23

Spiritual practice of poetry: Write a poem about God’s unexpected movement in your life in a familiar form or without a set form.

Reflect: In the profound and beautiful “Magnificat” of Mary, she says “yes!” to what must have been a terrifying announcement. It is hard to imagine how we might respond to such a proclamation. What parts of Mary’s response to God’s call can you relate to? What parts would not be part of your response to such unexpected news?

For more:

Scripture suggestion: Luke 1:46-50

PRAYER: God of Power, thank you for choosing the most humble among us for your mighty deeds. Make us, like Mary, ready to say “yes!” when you call us by name. Amen.

Friday, December 24

Spiritual Practice of Giving

As you begin this evening, begin with a sunflower seed from your Advent kit. Hold it in your hand. Notice the hard casing around the kernel. Crack it open and observe the kernel.

On this final Friday of Advent when we gather in the evening to celebrate Christmas Eve worship, we continue to engage with the metaphor of the seed with new life inside. Consider where you see the promise of new life. Can you align your gift this day with that which brings new life? Maybe there is a way that your Christmas Eve gift can assist someone else with finding their way into community for the first time in a long time. Maybe there is an organization you support that brings life or hope in places where it is needed most? Is there a gift of prayer, presence, story, or song you could give this day that would help someone notice who is born this night?

For More:

Reflect:  For many, giving gifts is a huge part of how we know it’s Advent. On Fridays during this season, we will work with the idea of giving gifts as a spiritual practice to reclaim this tradition for our faith life. Gift giving looks very different for different people, depending on the size of their family, the relationships they have with those who are close to them, and their budget. The spiritual practices for Fridays are intended to be adaptable to each person’s context, and may be interpreted in many ways. If you find that this is not true for you, please repeat the devotion from one of the earlier days of the week instead of trying to give beyond your means or in a way that is not life-giving for you. If the seed metaphor helps you with the idea of giving during this season, how do you see them as connected?

Saturday (Christmas Day): breath

Spiritual Practice of a breath prayer: We wait with longing for the Lord. Our breath can be a guide for us as we wait. Choose two lines from the Scripture or poem of your choosing and use them as a breath prayer. As you inhale, repeat aloud or in your mind the first line and as you exhale repeat the second line. Adjust the speed of your breathing to fit the lines you have chosen so you can comfortably say the words to yourself in the time that it takes you to inhale and exhale.

Scripture Suggestion: Luke 2