Dear Grace and Mercy,
It is my deep joy to walk through Advent with you all. Included here, you’ll find a brief description of Advent, a description of how this guide might be used, and the guide itself.
The historical Christian church keeps a calendar of its own. In the calendar, called the liturgical year, Advent is the very first season. Traditionally, Advent is a season of fasting, almsgiving, and preparation leading up to the feasting and celebration of Christ’s birth. In the liturgical year, Christmas is celebrated for a full 12 days (the 12 days of Christmas).
The liturgical year is organized into three major movements. Advent & Christmas celebrate the Incarnation, the coming of a God who became flesh, who is God with us. Lent and Easter celebrate the ultimate defeat of sin and death, the ultimate victory of the resurrection, the God who saves. The third season is called Ordinary Time. This third season recognizes the ordinary, extraordinary calling of the Church in the world to walk into our identities as people who are beloved, saved, and filled with the Holy Spirit.
Advent begins four Sundays before Christmas and offers us the opportunity to meditate yearly on the incredible ways that God is near.
How to use the guide:
Please use these suggestions in any way that blesses you or your family! Some days you might want to follow the entire day’s liturgy. Some days you might want to light the candle and pray the Psalm. I’ll describe the components and leave it to you to decide how you’d like Advent to look in your own home.
Lighting the candle:
There are many varieties of Advent candles and traditions. You may have one of the 25 candle varieties and light an additional candle each day. You may have an Advent wreath with four candles and light an additional candle each week. You also may have one candle that you light each day during this time of worship.
Praying the Psalm:
We are a people formed by the Psalms. At Grace & Mercy, we’ve spent four full years reading and praying these words together. They remain formational to our corporate and individual prayers. If you are running low on time, I suggest praying the Psalms be the one thing you do that day. We’ll be praying the Psalms that follow the Common Lectionary this year. This has us praying Psalms along with a large portion of the global church and often repeating Psalms three times (trinitarian significance!).
Each week we’ll encounter creative reflections from the global, historical, and local church. As you reflect, you are invited to participate in creation, too! Please feel welcome to journal, draw, compose music, or participate in any other creative response you are led toward.
On days without a reflection, you will be offered questions, poetry, or artwork to contemplate. This year, there are several feast days highlighting saints of the Christian church. You may encounter these alone in prayer, use them as journal prompts, or use them as family conversation starters.
Action items are suggestions of tangible practices you might try individually or as a family.
Scripture reading: This year, we’ll begin the week with Scripture from the Old Testament reflecting the weekly focus. We’ll also journey through the gospel story of the birth, death, resurrection, and prophesied return of Jesus over the course of the Advent season.
Each day, there is a hymn to sing or listen to while closing in prayer and contemplation. I’ve included links to a youtube version of each hymn and attempted to use a version that includes lyrics. Traditionally, Advent hymns focus on the waiting for a Messiah, and songs that exult in the birth of Christ are reserved for the twelve days of Christmas. I’ve included many Advent hymns here, but am not a purist, and have also included hymns that another branch of the church might have held off on. As always, feel free to use these songs, choose your own, or skip this section altogether. These songs are also added to a Spotify playlist called “G&M Advent 2022” if you’d like to listen to them there.