Advent invites us to slow down and experience God’s presence, to embrace grace in new ways. Taking time to pause can help us to see God more clearly. What do you see when you take time to reflect on your life and talk to God? Where do the gifts of hope, peace, joy, and love show up in your life each day? Whether observing the season of Advent as a new spiritual practice or one that you have participated in for many years, consider what you would like to accomplish this Advent season.
While lighting the candles of the Advent wreath, pause to reflect on where you see hope, peace, joy, and love. Maybe you will observe Advent with your family or in your church community. You might also consider hosting an online group — comprised of people from different generations — and leading them in these litanies. However you choose to observe the season, may this Advent bring forth an expectant faith that births new life for you in the year to come and beyond.
First Sunday of Advent: See Hope
Speak: “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord’” (Ps. 122:1, NRSV).
Light the first candle for hope. Let us see hope in the Lord!
Read: Isaiah 2:1-5 and Matthew 24:36-44
Reflect: Where do you see hope in Isaiah 2 and Matthew 24? Reflect on the hope that God’s light will shine on the mountaintop, revealing the goodness of new life.
Engage: Take a prayer walk with another person. This time apart with God can occur on a mountain, in your neighborhood, or just about anywhere. As you walk, look around you for signs of hope.
Pray: Gracious God, we seek you everywhere with expectant eyes that invite us to see hope in the world today. Amen.
Second Sunday of Advent: See Peace
Speak: “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who alone does wondrous things” (Ps. 72:18).
Light the second candle for peace. Let us see peace in the Lord!
Read: Isaiah 11:1-10 and Romans 15:4-13
Reflect: Where do you see peace in Isaiah 11 and Romans 15? Where do you see signs of peace in an anxious world?
Engage: Slow down and reflect on your story. Bring your family together to share stories of gratitude and salvation.
Pray: Gracious God, we seek you everywhere with expectant eyes that invite us to see peace in the world today. Amen.
Third Sunday of Advent: See Joy
Speak: “Jesus said, ‘Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them’” (Matt. 11:4-5).
Light the third candle for joy. Let us see joy in the Lord!
Read: Isaiah 35:1-10, Luke 1:46-55, and Matthew 11:2-11
Reflect: When have you seen the promise of joy in challenging times? How do you share with others the joy you find in Jesus?
Engage: Read James 5:7-10. How are you willing to be patient and wait for joy today? How will you serve others as you wait?
Pray: Gracious God, we seek you everywhere with expectant eyes that invite us to see joy in the world today. Amen.
Fourth Sunday of Advent: See Love
Speak: “Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 1:18).
Light the fourth candle for love. Let us see love in the Lord!
Read: Isaiah 7:10-16 and Matthew 1:18-25
Reflect: Read and reflect on Psalm 80:19. Remember that salvation is a gift of love from the Lord. What other gifts has God given you today?
Engage: Show an act of kindness to a child with a parent who is ill or incarcerated, or take dinner to the medical team at your local emergency room or urgent-care clinic.
Pray: Gracious God, we seek you everywhere with expectant eyes that invite us to see love in the world today. Amen.
Christmas Eve/Day: See the Child that Changes the World!
Speak: “A child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9:6).
Light the Christ candle. Let us see the One who was born to change the world!
Read: Isaiah 9:2-7 and Luke 2:1-20
Reflect: Where in your community do you see signs that Christ is changing the world? Where would you like to see more signs of change?
Engage: What will you do today to share God with others?
Pray: Gracious God, we seek you everywhere with expectant eyes that invite us to see all the people that you are calling us to love today. We praise you, O God, for the King of Kings! Amen.
The Rev. Dr. King develops leadership resources for local congregations, engages groups in processes that promote outreach, and teaches online learning through webinars. She is an elder from the Texas Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.