USING THE DEVOTIONAL
This devotional contains daily devotions and reflections for the entire season of Advent as well as a reflection and compline prayer to help families worship and discuss our Advent themes together. The family portions is designed to work for families of all shapes and sizes and does not require extensive preparation. The Advent study walks through the theme of “The Word Made Flesh” exploring the incarnation of Jesus Christ and his embodiment of Word, truth, grace, and love. No matter what your experience is with devotionals and Advent, this is a great opportunity to focus in personal discipleship and growth and extending that to the whole family. For all of us, we pray that this Advent would be one that is marked by hope, expectation, remembrance and worship. The King has come and is coming again and there is much to celebrate!
A NOTE FOR FAMILIES
Christmas is such an exciting time, especially for the smallest members of our family. But all of the good things the season has to offer can take our focus off of the best thing, the whole reason for Christmas – Jesus coming down from his throne to be live among us, putting into action the great rescue plan for his people. If you, as a parent, grandparent, caregiver, or other influential person in a child’s life are wondering how to recapture the meaning of Christmas this year, this devotional may be the stepping stone you need to begin meaningful conversations and change in your home. To help toward that end, we have provided a family portion each week that will help you create intentional time to talk about Jesus. We wrote the family portions of the guide with preschool and elementary-aged children in mind. If you have older children, consider having each person work through the “Personal Study” section in place of reading the family commentary, and then come together to talk about what you learned.
If you are new to home worship or feel overwhelmed by using this whole devotional, choose one part to engage in as a family.
You may choose to just focus on doing Compline together in the evenings during Advent. Repeating these prayers together plants them in the hearts of our children faster than you can imagine. Questions about words or phrases can spark beautiful conversations. The use of candles to signify a holy time, set apart from the rest of the day can bring much needed peace before bedtime.
Some families choose to do devotions during dinner, when everyone is seated and already gathered. Ears are wide open for readings when mouths are full of food. You could even share something you learned earlier in the day when you studied the daily passage or reflected on the devotional questions.
Do a combination of the two. Children’s Pastor Mikah shares part of her own story where “one of the most meaningful (albeit initially odd) things my Dad did when I was in high school was to read scripture to me as I was getting ready for school (literally doing my hair in the bathroom). And, if for some reason he missed me in the mornings, he would tell me about his time with God in the evenings as I got ready for bed and close the night with a prayer from Compline.”
Whatever way you choose this year, involve your family, and pursue your children. Take them with you to pick out a candle to light while you say compline or have them help decorate an Advent wreath. If you choose to use the Advent wreath as the guide suggests, put it in a special, visible place in the house to serve as a reminder of Jesus’ coming. Set aside a place and a time for your worship. If you find yourself at a loss of what to say, use the guiding family prompts to help you talk about the Bible passage, and see where the Spirit takes you.
Above all pray. Pray for this time of preparation. We, in turn, will be praying for you. May the Lord bless you in this wonderful season, may Jesus be present in your homes, and may the Spirit guide and embolden you as you lead your families in worship. Amen.