As you plan and prepare for Advent, we wanted to offer up some rich resources to assist you – devotions, all-ages activities that can be done at home or at church, and worship assists. Do you have a favorite resource you’d like to share? Let us know!
Daily Advent Devotions
Presbyterians Today – God Lifts the Lowly
Presbyterians Today’s new Advent devotional for 2018 is based on verse 52 from Mary’s Song of Praise — also known as The Magnificat —found in Luke 1: He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly.
From Donna Frischknecht Jackson, the editor for Presbyterians Today who authored this devotional with Krin Van Tatenhove and Andrew Weatherly about this devotional by and for people with special needs, and all of us:
As a pastor, I am reminded weekly during Sunday’s prayers of people that life is not easy. I listen as those in the pew ask for comfort, guidance, healing and hope. I listen, and then I pray for our laments to turn into songs of praise.
Mary had a song of praise — one that thanked God for looking favorably upon her and the plight of her people — and so in planning this year’s Advent devotional, I thought it was fitting to hear from Mary and to be reminded once again that God sees us, hears us and is with us always.
After reading verse 52, I began thinking about my low moments in life and how God raised me up out of the muck. I began thinking about all those who have gifted me with their songs of praise — beautiful notes of God looking on them with mercy. I especially began thinking about the special-needs saints God has brought into my life, and how their songs of praise, sung amid adversity, made me realize God has a song for us all. It doesn’t matter who we are or what our circumstances or challenges might be. Songs of praise can come from our lips.
As for me, this project is close to my heart. I have a special-needs brother who struggles to find his place in the world. Born in the 1960s at a time when doctors, teachers, social workers, even my parents, didn’t know what do with him, his time of Advent waiting seems endless. It’s hard at times to keep the faith that God is working on my brother’s song of praise. But isn’t that what the season of Advent invites us to do — to trust God even in our darkest days.
Best-selling author and minister Carol Howard Merritt leads us on a remarkable Advent journey with the blessed ordinary girl who becomes the holy and revered Mother of God. Join young Mary as she experiences the surprise, confusion, fear, anticipation, and blessing that follows her brave response to God’s call: “Here am I, Lord.” Listen carefully, and you may hear that call in your own life.
From the first Sunday of Advent through Christmas Day, each daily devotion includes a scripture verse, a reflection, and a prayer. I Am Mary also features an Advent candlelighting service–a great liturgy for the lighting of the the candles of Hope, Love, Joy and Peace, and the Christ candle.
Advent Activities and Worship Resources
Living Everyday As Disciples (LEAD) – Advent 2018 Resources
LEAD works with churches and pastors to develop leaders for the church that is becoming. Their Advent resources are designed to be used by individuals or groups, in the home, small groups and/or worship.
Using readings from the Revised Common Lectionary, the resources include:
- Weekly bulletins with liturgy and prayers (in both color and black & white versions)
- Weekly guided spiritual practices
- Daily intentions available in the bulletin and also as a daily email sent directly to your inbox
- “Like” the LEAD Facebook page to see and share each day’s intention
A simple sign-up gains you access to these free resources (and more!) and there are links to past years’ Advent resources as well at the bottom of the linked page.
Illustrated Children’s Ministry
You might have already seen or used the excellent resources from PC(USA) pastor Adam Walker Cleaveland and team at Illustrated Children’s Ministry. Though they use “children’s ministry” in the title, these are once again wonderful for families or the whole congregation to do together.
Oversize coloring sheets are intended to be used in group settings so everyone can join in, and there are banners, devotions and family resources as well – all for Advent. Advent 2018 Resources have their own page.
They have resources for the whole year, so check out everything they do.
More Advent and Christmas Practices for the Family
Presbyterians Today also has this rich and helpful article with a list of other practices you can do as an individual, family, group of friends, or church family.