By Caroline Park
Advent starts this Sunday! Advent starts on the fourth Sunday before Christmas and ends on Christmas Eve. It is a time when we get ready to enter into the mystery of Christmas.
The remarkable mystery of Christmas is that Jesus came as one of us. The mighty God willingly came to us as a vulnerable human baby to love and be with us. It is so counter to our culture that constantly tells us to elevate ourselves and seek power, that we are slow to understand it. We need time to reflect on it and prepare ourselves, so we can really receive Him. And that time of preparation is what Advent is about.
I am particularly excited about this year’s Advent, since everyone at the River—kids, youth and grownups—will spend time reflecting on this truth of “God With Us.” For three Sundays, we will look at different ways that God is with us.
On the first Sunday of Advent, we will discuss “God In Us.” Jesus coming to us as one of us shows us that we all are created in God’s image. We all bear the mark of divine in us. No one should be excluded or treated as if they are “less than.” God welcomes everyone to come near.
On the second Sunday of Advent, we will discuss “God Among Us.” We all share God’s image in us, which connects us as one. The church is the community of people among which God’s Spirit lives. Through Him, we are able to really see and connect with those who are different from us.
On the third Sunday of Advent, we will reflect on “God Through Us.” God’s image is in us, His presence is among us, and He works through us. Immanuel Jesus is bringing His love and grace to all people. The whole creation is being made new through Him. And He invites us to be partners in what he is doing and part of His story. All we need to do is to say yes and follow Him.
The fourth Sunday of Advent, which falls on Christmas Eve this year, will be our Christmas Service! Children and youth will join the service and we will celebrate together the God who is with us!
Celebrating Advent As a Family
What I’d most like for our families during the Advent season is, in the midst of our busy lives, to have space to take a breath, connect with each other, and turn toward God together in a non-stressful way. I’d like these pauses to be grounding and de-stressing. I’d like our families to experience the peace that comes from remembering God’s faithfulness, even in this busy season. So we’ve created a few tools that might help you move toward it.
Advent Family Lunch
This Sunday (12/3), we are kicking off the Advent season with a Family Lunch during the 2nd service. It will be a great way to start the season, especially if you’ve found it difficult to get everyone in the family on the same page in previous years. Entering into the spirit of the season collectively with friends and families is just more exciting and meaningful than doing it alone.
We will have a short explanation of what Advent is and how we can celebrate it. We will also introduce our Advent Family Time booklet and candles. And of course, pizza and conversations! Kindly RSVP here.
Advent Family Time Booklet
This year, we’ve created a DIY nativity set. We think that it can be a fun and easy daily activity for the children and a meaningful connection point for families. Pick up your booklet this Sunday or click here to print a copy at home.
Candles are an easy and fun way to mark the season. We will light our first candle together and learn how to use them. There will be Advent Candle Sets available to purchase ($5/set).