Since the fourth century, the Church has celebrated Advent, which comes from a Latin word that means “coming” or “arrival.” We observe Advent the four weeks before Christmas as we prepare for Jesus’ coming—celebrating His first coming and anticipating His second coming! Advent is our invitation to let Jesus’ first coming shape our daily and weekly schedule as we wait for Christmas Day to arrive. It is also a time to consider how we long for his return, as well as how we see him coming in the present as we wait.
How do I use this guide?
We hope this guide serves as a helpful companion through this special season. Feel free to use it as an individual, family, or life group. We have included our church-wide reading plan for those reading through the New Testament with us this year. This guide will complement our sermon series, “The Revelation Of Jesus”, so make sure to watch the weekly sermon HERE if you miss a service this next month. We included questions for you to reflect on throughout the week and a spiritual practice to help you live out what you are hearing. We’ve also included a prayer you can incorporate into your prayer life for the week, as well as songs and videos to lead you into a deeper place of intimacy with Christ.
May Jesus be revealed in every area of your life this Advent and Christmas season!
November 28 - December 4, 2021
Jesus - The Faithful Witness
Revelation 1-11 (Messiah Bible pgs. 453-467)
- How has Jesus revealed himself as the Faithful Witness in your life and family this year? When have you wondered, “Jesus, do you see what is happening?” How can those times of knowing him as Faithful Witness inform the situations where you wonder if he sees what is happening?
- As the world’s realities have played on your screens this year, what has been stirring in you? What do you think it means for Jesus to be the Faithful Witness through you? What does that possibility awaken in you?
Consumerism is in great abundance in our culture, especially during the holiday season. This week actively resist the way the world celebrates by being a faithful witness to the Spirit of Jesus. Consider abstaining from buying this week and look for opportunities to give words of encouragement, love, and affirmation when you see people doing something good that others wouldn’t notice. Or, perhaps, consider coming alongside someone who feels unseen and buy them lunch or a cup of coffee and offer them conversation, so they feel seen and heard.
Father, we come before you with grateful hearts and a willingness to share with others the grace and mercy that you have abundantly showered on us. Help us, Lord, demonstrate your great love and grace to all those we encounter this week. Untangle us from the way of the world to be faithful witnesses of you so that others may come to know you and follow Jesus. May we be your hands and feet, your eyes and ears, and your heart of love in all we say and do this week. In Jesus' name, amen.
December 5 - 11, 2021
Jesus - The Present One
Revelation 12-22 (Messiah Bible pgs. 467-482)
- How has Jesus revealed himself as the Present One in your life this year? Where have you wondered, “Jesus, where are you?” How might the places you don’t sense his presence open you to discerning him in new ways?
- How have you experienced Christ’s presence through community this year? How do you think others have experienced the presence of Christ through you?
Dietrick Bonhoeffer wrote, “Many people are looking for an ear that will listen. They do not find it among Christians, because these Christians are talking where they should be listening. But he who can no longer listen to his brother will soon be no longer listening to God either.” This time of year, the sounds of the season can drown out what we need to hear in others. This week create intentional space for silence before you leave your house each day. When having conversations, practice what minister and author Peter Scazzero refers to as incarnational listening:
- Give the speaker your full attention.
- Step into the speaker’s shoes.
- Avoid judging or interpreting what is said.
- Reflect as accurately as you can what you heard the speaker say.
- When you think they are done, ask,“Is there more you’d like to share?”
- When they are done, ask,“Of everything you have shared, what is the most important thing you want me to remember?”
We tend to forget that listening to God is part of praying, which means giving space to silence. Like Samuel, let your prayer this week be, “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening” (1 Sam. 3:10). And then sit in silence and actively listen for his voice.
December 12 - 18, 2021
Jesus - The Slain Lamb
John 1-10 (Messiah Bible pgs. 397-419)
- We tend to associate Jesus the Slain Lamb with Easter, preferring the image of the helpless baby at Christmas. How do both images display power in weakness? How does contemplating Jesus as the Slain Lamb challenge your typical Christmas experience? How might it enrich it?
- Besides Sunday morning “worship service,” what does it look like for you to worship Jesus throughout your week? How does your everyday life reveal what you truly worship? What adjustments do you need to make?
Author and philosopher James K. A. Smith points out that humans are more than thinkers; we are lovers because God created us to worship—to love and adore him above everything else. Christmastime has a way of awakening and revealing our desires. This week intentionally pay attention to what desires arise within you (consider the significant and seemingly insignificant desires). When you recognize a longing within, stop and invite God into that moment. Has God shaped this desire? How does it reveal a longing for him? If misdirected, how can you allow God to reform that desire?
Worthy are you, Jesus the slaughtered Lamb, to receive our power and our wealth and our wisdom and our might and our honor and our glory. Forgive us when we try to hold on to these things for ourselves, convinced that our worth and our victory lie in them, and not in you. May we hear your call to Kingdom living, sharing in your work as the royal priesthood, bringing our praises to you and bringing your rule to the world. Along with the four living creatures, we say, “Amen!”
December 19 - 25, 2021
Jesus - The Coming One
John 11-21 (Messiah Bible pgs. 419-437)
- When you think of Jesus revealed as the Coming One, what images, emotions, hopes, and fears does that evoke? How does it challenge you to persevere or change something in your life? How is Jesus currently revealing himself to you as the Coming One in your day-to-day life?
- How are you anticipating the coming of Christmas Day at the end of this week? In the same way, how is your life postured with expectancy for the Second Coming of Jesus? How does your life reflect signs of this anticipation to others?
We tend to look for the negative signs that Christ is coming (e.g., disease, famine, war, etc.). However, take a moment and consider the positive signs that his Kingdom is invading the earth now. This week as the world goes about the hustle and bustle of final Christmas preparations, resist getting caught up in it. Slow down. Look for the beautiful signs of Jesus’ coming that we already see revealed. Take them in and pray, “Thank you that your Kingdom comes now, on earth, as it is in heaven.” Do not ignore the broken, desolate places. Allow the longing stirred within to come out in a prayer: “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!”
The book of Revelation ends with a short yet powerful prayer in response to Jesus’ claim, “Yes, I am coming soon.” May our mouths and our lives proclaim this simple prayer daily: “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!”
December 26 - 31, 2021
Jesus - The Alpha & Omega
1, 2, & 3 John (Messiah Bible pgs. 439-452)
As we end one year and begin another, we encourage you to lean into a time of examination with the Holy Spirit. Below is a prayer of examination to guide you in the process. We suggest you do this practice with a journal/notebook in hand.
Presence: Remember the presence of God is with you always. In the stillness of this reflective time, listen for God’s voice. Spend time recognizing how Jesus revealed himself as present to you this year (this was part of the reflection from week 2 in the guide, so you might want to review your reflection from that week).
Gratitude: With a grateful heart and a desire to live a life of thankfulness, spend time reflecting.
- What are you grateful for this past year?
- What are you grateful for as a new year begins?
Review : It’s essential this time of year to review the interactions, responses, feelings, interruptions, and intentions of the past year.
- When in the past year were you cooperating most fully with God’s action in your life? When were you resisting?
- What habits and life patterns do you notice from the past year? Which ones brought you closer to Jesus? Which ones seemed to pull you away from him
- What might God want to end in your life? What might he want to begin?
Response: This is a time to seek forgiveness or direction or resolve to make changes in your life.
- Beginning with the new year, how do you want to live your life differently from this past year?
- What current patterns or rhythms in your life do you want to keep?
- Is there anything God has asked you to do that you’ve left undone this year? How might you resolve to live in obedience to him this coming year?
Look Forward and Pray in Hope: Spend time expressing your hope for the year ahead.
- As you look forward to 2022, talk to Jesus about how you hope to experience spiritual growth and transformation.
- What do you desire your relationship with Jesus to look like next year at this time? How do you hope for your relationship with him to influence your relationship with others?
Father, you go before us. You are the God of our past, our present, and our future. You created each of us for a unique purpose to be realized in the days of our lives on this earth. Although we do not know what is coming our way, we know that life on this side of heaven comes with difficulty. Embolden us by the power of your Spirit and the truth of your Word for the days ahead. Amen.