Preparation through Remembering | Advent Week 1 2018
Welcome to the Constant Source Weekly Advent series! If this is your first time using one of our tools, read the (text that look like this to learn the how and why of each section). If you’d like to learn more than what is shared here, check out our overview blog post.
As a starting note, there is quite a bit here. You can jam through it all right now or bookmark the page and read through it over the next couple of days. We recommend splitting this post into three sittings. Also, if you are going to do the craft during family night, we recommend scrolling down and making sure you order the supplies you don’t already have, so you are ready!
Sitting 1: Read the Bible verses and the commentary. Then finish with working through the reflection section.
Sitting 2: Go through the “further readings” section. Read each of the Bible verses and then respond to each of the questions below
Sitting 3: Gather your family and plan to spend an evening together as you read, learn, craft, and sing your way through the Advent story.
We pray that your family would experience God intimately in this season and that you would be immensely blessed by the time that you share.
Read: Jeremiah 33:14-16
(Every Constant Source Weekly is inspired by four pieces of Scripture from all different parts of the Bible. One of those texts becomes the main foundation for the lesson and is interwoven throughout. Start by reading the text linked above.)
(Every Scripture reading is paired with a commentary section that explains the core themes of the passage, discusses the way the reading informs our faith, and helps interconnect all parts of the Bible. Read that next below.)
Surely the day is coming; surely the day is almost here. Advent is a special time of year. It is the season wherein the entire Christian community waits with bated breath for the coming of Jesus Christ, God with us. It demarcates the beginning of the new church year and a fresh promise for that which is to come. A promise that was given a long time ago, a promise that came to fruition, a promise that must be remembered, and, in this season, a promise we must prepare ourselves and our families to receive. This year, our theme for the Advent season is preparation. Every week leading up to Christmas, we are going to talk about different ways to prepare for the coming of the Messiah. To do this, we will explore some traditional, yet seasonally unorthodox, scripture verses to learn how different sections of the Bible speak to and prepare the way for Jesus. It’s going to be a lot of fun, and I am looking forward to preparing myself alongside you this holiday season. Speaking of which, before jumping in, take a moment to center yourself on God and prepare your heart through prayer to receive the hope, joy, comfort, and transformation that God has in store.
Today, as we unpack Jeremiah alongside the other texts for the week, there are two main ideas that we want to pull out regarding preparation. First, throughout our texts, we can sense this deep aching, this need for things to be different. This need stems from a history of brokenness and a need for righteousness. Second, we encounter this feeling of expectant urgency, a feeling like something is coming but the when and what of it is unknown. These two ideas are integral to Advent. This first week of Advent is the most mysterious. It’s a week for reflection on the darkness of the past, so that when we experience the blinding light of the season we begin to understand how things are now different.
Let’s start with this longing for righteousness. As is shown throughout the Bible and touched upon here in Jeremiah, the human story is fraught with brokenness and sin. The Old Testament tells the story of God’s chosen people, the Israelites, cycling in and out of a faithful relationship with God. This is a relationship we were designed to participate in (Genesis 1:26-27), but since the fall (Genesis 3) we could never commit to. Jeremiah 33:15-16 foretells this moment in history when God responds to the brokenness of creation with an upspringing, an outpouring of righteousness. The promise is that this gift will cover sins and deliver God’s people from the brokenness and turmoil that they have found themselves. This is the promise of the coming Messiah. As is alluded to in verse 16, the Messiah will give each of us a new name. We will no longer be identified by our broken nature, but rather by the One who covers us. When Jesus came into the world and took on flesh, He redeemed its brokenness. Because of Jesus, that which was sinful was renewed and renamed as righteous.
The important thing to remember is that even though we tell the story of Jesus as a past tense narrative, the narrative of sin and brokenness is still vividly present in the world around us. We return to the Advent story year after year because it reminds us that we are just as much in need of this renewed righteousness today as we were 2,000 years ago. The world has changed, but sin has remained the same. We each need more righteousness in our lives today. And so, hopefully, we are left aching, aching for the almost but not yet here hope of redemption that the Messiah brings.
That almost here, coming soon feeling is the other key idea that Jeremiah is getting at. This idea is so crucial to the way that we approach Advent because inhabiting the world 2,000 years after Christ did makes things feel distant and lackluster. Instead, we need to remember and reflect on the fact that Jeremiah and all of the other Old Testament prophets, as well as many of the Israelite people, were waiting in anticipation for the coming of the Messiah. In this season, we take time to remember so that we too can experience the longing, urgency, mystery, and wonder surrounding the climactic moment of Jesus’s birth. As we share the Advent story with our families, let’s prepare the way by inviting them into the mystery and wonder of the season.
(The reflection section provides prompts to help you think through what God is teaching you and how it applies to the world around you. Take 3-5 minutes to ponder and respond to each question below. We recommend keeping a journal to write in, so that you can revisit it later.)
This season is supposed to be one of hope and excitement, but sometimes it is filled with pain and anxiety brought on by the broken nature of the world. Where are you at this Advent season? Take time to honestly reflect on your feelings and ask God to meet you in the midst of your hope or your lack thereof.
When you consider your relationships in your life, with God or with others, what do you long for?
What excites, inspires, or fills you with wonder these days? What used to? The world around us is filled with things that were created by God and point towards God’s glory. Ask God to inspire and fill you with wonder this Advent season, no matter how hard you think that might be.
(This section notes the other three scripture verses that come from the Lectionary and influenced the direction of the theme. Each reading helps you dive deeper into the Bible and provides a quick note on how that text applies to the theme. Finally, there is a reflection question for each verse as well.)
Psalm 25:1-10 - In this text attributed to King David, the psalmist prays diligently that God would teach him to live his life more faithfully and that his guilt would be pardoned. When read in light of Advent, we are reminded of our own need for righteousness and are invited to wait, alongside the Psalmist, for God to redeem us.
Go back and reread verses 6-8. Can you empathize with the author? Where do you need God to meet you this season?
1 Thessalonians 3:9-13 - In this text, Paul is admiring the work of the cross and its impact on the people of Thessalonica. Paul is so excited by the ways that Jesus is transforming their lives that he longs to be with them. However, knowing that he won’t be able to be with them soon, his prayer is that the Lord would continue to “increase” their love for others and “strengthen” their faith. When read in light of Advent, we are invited into this feeling of longing and hope, that God’s work in our lives will increase our love and strengthen our faith in the season ahead.
Pick one of these two promises: either that your love for others would increase or that your faith would be strengthened. Take a moment in prayer to ask God to specifically transform your life in this way during this Advent season.
Luke 21:25-36 - In this text, Jesus poetically foretells the coming of the son of man with apocalyptic language. Then He uses a parable to remind his audience that the Kingdom of God is near and it’s their job to keep a keen watch for its coming. I love this reading because it inspires curiosity and intrigue. Many scholars still debate what Jesus is getting at in these texts. Yet in this season of Advent, it reminds us that while the Holy Spirit has come and is working through each of us, the full realization of the Kingdom of God is still coming.
Verse 34 reminds us to not get caught up in the worries of life but to instead keep an eye out for the ways that God is working. What worries are distracting you right now? After you list a couple, ask God to give you the strength you need “to escape” and set aside those worries so that you can fully focus on Jesus Christ.
Each week of Advent, we encourage you to set aside time for your family to come together and create space to intentionally focus on preparing your hearts for the coming of Jesus Christ. We recommend Sunday evenings, as it is the traditional time that the Advent story has been shared in families for hundreds of years, but any time when you can gather together will work great. To help you navigate this time, each week you will find a reading from the traditional Advent story, discussion prompts, questions, a thematic song, a craft, and a prayer. We pray that your time will be filled with the Holy Spirit and that God would prepare your hearts this Advent season for the coming of the Messiah.
The Annunciation | Advent Story | Luke 1:26-38
(This section is to help you see the connection between what you studied above and the Advent story we are going to share below.)
Through our unpacking of Jeremiah, we talked about the importance of remembering that Advent is a time of anticipation, mystery, waiting, and wonder. We want to communicate these ideas and feelings to our kids during this first week of Advent to set the stage for the rest of the season. We are going to do this by remembering and sharing stories and feelings from when your child/children were in the womb.
Begin by introducing Advent and talking about what this church season is all about.
Read, or have one of your older children read, Luke 1:26-38.
Ask your family: “How do you think Mary was feeling after she received the news?”
Share a story about how your emotions matched the emotions of Mary when you found out that you were pregnant.
Ask: Do you know how long a mommy and daddy have to wait for their baby to arrive?
Share a story with your children about having to wait in anticipation for one of them to arrive.
Explain to your family that the excitement and waiting that Mary felt and that you felt are what this season is all about. Explain that we know something good is coming but we have to wait.
Craft | DIY Nativity Scene
Over the course of the next four weeks, we are going to use our craft time to create a DIY nativity scene with our family. By creating a tangible and tactile implementation of the Christmas story, our young ones will be better able to process through the story and then can retell the story through the use of their nativity as a prop. You will also have a great keepsake decoration to help you revisit memories for years to come.
NOTE: If you have multiple kids who are going to participate in the creation of the nativity scene, you can either divvy up the steps and who gets to paint each doll or you can create an extra set to gift to a relative. Just be sure that you purchase extra peg dolls.
Wooden Peg Dolls (1 “Dad” Wooden Peg Doll and 1 “Mom” Wooden Peg Doll are used for this weeks craft, but we will use many of these dolls throughout)
Craft Paint Brushes (2-pack linked so that whole family has the brushes they need)
This week we are going to start off by creating Mary and Joseph in 3 quick and easy steps. So grab your supplies, gather your family, and let’s jump in.
Step 1: Outline
Begin by using a pencil to outline the face and clothes of Mary and Joseph. It’s up to you whether you use arms or not. For Mary, I decided to use arms, which I connected to her back and head covering to make it look like a cloak over a white dress. Simply sketch a rectangle on the head to form the head covering. Then, to do her cloak, start with the arms and draw two “V”s. Then draw an upside down “V” to create the sleeve ends. Finish by erasing the bottom section of the lower “V” and connecting the sleeves to the head covering and the bottom of the doll. For Joseph, I decided to skip on the arms and kept his robe simple by sketching two parallel vertical lines. I drew a trapezoid to outline his hairline and added a belt by drawing two parallel horizontal lines about 1/4 of the way up the body.
Step 2: Paint
This step is pretty simple and can be done by anyone. Using as few as five colors, you can fill in the outline you sketched in step 1. For young kids, you can number the colors and put a number in each section so they know what color to paint. If needed, you can also outline each section and allow them to fill in the rest.
Step 3: Add Faces
For the faces, simply grab your black marker and draw a little smiley face.
Bonus Step: Finishing Spray
For durability, spray with clear protective finish to keep paint from chipping during play.
Each week take some time to sing together. Each song is on theme, and the lyrics can be another awesome conversation starter with your older kids. If you’re unfamiliar with the song or if you’d like some an accompaniment, we recommend that you search for a video online and play it while you sing. The lyrics are included below for reference, either while you sing or while you talk about their meaning.
Born thy people to deliver,
born a child and yet a King,
born to reign in us forever,
now thy gracious kingdom bring.
By thine own eternal spirit
rule in all our hearts alone;
by thine all sufficient merit,
raise us to thy glorious throne.
Come, thou long expected Jesus,
born to set thy people free;
from our fears and sins release us,
let us find our rest in thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation,
hope of all the earth thou art;
dear desire of every nation,
joy of every longing heart.
(Pray this prayer in conclusion of your time together.)
“Lord God, we thank you for this season of excitement, anticipation, and wonder. We pray, Lord, that in this season you would prepare our hearts for the coming of Jesus and help us to be inspired by the gift that is to come. Thank you for this time we have had to spend together and help us keep what we have learned this week on the forefront of our minds. Amen.”
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Happy Advent and God Bless.
*Transparency Disclosure: Each of the Amazon links above are associate links, which means that Constant Source collects a small percentage of each item purchased via the above links. These links are examples of the supplies that can be used and alternative supplies will work just as well.