Keep Awake with us this Advent
The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of deep darkness--
on them light has shined.
Advent is a wonderful season of hope, expectation, and preparation for the coming of Jesus our Messiah. We look for Jesus Christ to come to us in the manger at Christmas, in our hearts today, in the faces of those in need, and some day to judge the living and the dead. This season marks a time when we prepare for his coming with joy.
This year that celebration looks very different in the midst of a global pandemic. We long for gathering together and joining our voices in carols once again. God invites us this Advent to pour our longing and our hope for healing into our celebration of the season. IHS has constructed Advent care packages to help light our path in the dark of this time on the journey to the manger.
Below, you will find a daily devotional titled “Living Well Through Advent 2020: Practicing Hope with All Your Heart, Soul, Strength, and Mind.” We’ve included prayers for lighting an Advent wreath in your home, perhaps at mealtime. Included is also a weekly “Blue December” evening prayer service, because we are all experiencing untold grief this Advent. We are also producing a video version of this evening prayer for each week with readings from our IHS parishioners. The Advent Word practice cards are meant to inspire you to deeper reflections on the season in ways that express yourself creatively.
Think this year about how you would like to structure your devotion to the Advent season. Set time apart in your weekly and daily schedule for some practice. You do not need to do it all, but you may want to set intentional time each evening, perhaps at a meal, to read and light a candle.
And in addition we will continue our online worship, formation, and community building through Advent with special music for the season. We’re excited to offer our first ever IHS CARaoke, and we hope you’ll come sing and celebrate with us in a safe and socially distanced way the joy of Christmas.
This year is different, but one truth is the same: the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. On all of us the light of Jesus Christ, who is the very Light of God, has shined on us. May you be blessed with his light this Advent in whatever practice you do.
The Rev. Benjamin GIldas, AF
Use an Advent Wreath this Year
The Advent Wreath is a visual symbol marking the progress of the season of Advent, originating as a domestic devotion and an opportunity for family prayer. It functions as a simple countdown-timer for the passage of Advent.
When used in private homes, the Advent Wreath provides a focus for devotions at the time of the evening meal. There are many resources for devotions produced to include the reading of scriptures suitable for the Advent season. The short form of An Order of Worship for the Evening, Prayer Book pages 109-112, is also recommended. In place of the Short Lesson of Scripture provided in the Order, one of the readings from the Daily Office Lectionary may be used, in whole or in part. Alternatively, the following may be used:
Week of 1 Advent
Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour. (Matthew 24:42-44)
Week of 2 Advent
The word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah, “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’” (Luke 3:2b-6)
Week of 3 Advent
As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, John answered all of them by saying, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. (Luke 3:15-16)
Week of 4 Advent
In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. (Luke 1:39-42)