It's officially Christmastime in New York City! While it's easy to get wrapped up in the parties and decor of the season, we as the church are called to remember the true essence of Christmas...
Here at Forefront we observe Advent during the Christmas season. It's a time of waiting and preparation. It's a time of compassion and giving. In these four weeks leading up to birth of Jesus, Christians around the world will embrace daily and weekly rhythms of prayer and reflection as we await the hope, peace, joy and love that comes with the birth of our Lord and Savior.
If you'd like to join us in these divine rhythms, then check out a few of the resources below. We've recommended some of our favorite devotionals for you to walk through individually, as a family, and with your small group this Advent season. Click the links for additional resources and the pictures for direct links to buy the books on Amazon.
Richard Rohr's Preparing for Christmas - Daily Meditations for Advent
This is a simple daily scripture reading and commentary that finishes with a question for reflection. The book is written on a three year cycle with different passages to read each year. This is a perfect resource to start your day or to further your journaling time. It can also be read and discussed with friends or spouses. You can get a taste of it from reading Rohr's article on Huff Post here.
For Small Groups (or individuals):
Seeking God's Face: Praying with the Bible Through the year
You've heard us talk about this book often over the past year. We refer to it as "the Daily Office." It provides a twenty minute rhythm for you to walk through the season of Advent and the whole Christian calendar. Read more about how to use the Daily Office and how to meditate through it Lectio Divina style on your own or with your small group.
We Make the Road by Walking by brian mclaren
This is one of our favorite new resources that we've recently introduced to our small groups and leaders. It's a weekly study through scripture that covers the entire year in the Christian calendar. Each week covers three passages and is accompanied by commentary from McLaren and questions for reflection and meditation. The book is divided into parts to follow the rhythms of the yearly calendar. To pick up with the season of Advent you can begin your study at the start of "Part Two: Alive in the Adventure of Jesus." There are also appendixes with prayer and liturgy that small groups can use in their study together.
The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name - A family Reading plan for Advent
Every time we dedicate a new baby into the Forefront community, the child receives a gift of a children's Bible. We even used this Jesus Storybook to teach our adults in our ReTold series last summer. It's a well-written collection of illustrated stories from the Old & New Testaments that move your child toward understanding the significance of Christ's birth, life and death. This year we've found an Advent Reading Plan that helps you read 24 of the stories in your Jesus Storybook Bible as you walk through the days until Christmas. Read this blog post for all the details.
FAMILY ADVENT CALENDAR
On Sundays this December our elementary students will study the Christmas story together in Kidstuf. Through it they'll learn that one aspect of God’s character is compassion. God saw our greatest need, and He met it in the most remarkable way. Our Kidstuf curriculum includes a Family Advent Calendar with a line from the Christmas story and a different action each week to get kids and families thinking about how they can show Christ-like compassion this holiday season and all year round. You can print the PDF of the calendar for your family to use here.
For further reading:
Why observe Advent? Read this article by Rob Bell for some timely thoughts on the season.
Learn more about the Christian calendar and why we follow it as a church. Click here to find posts about Advent and the calendar on the Forefront Blog.
Listen to the Forefront NYC podcasts. Walk through Advent with us each Sunday and revisit the messages from Advent 2014 for even more great history and thoughts as we continue to once again "go back in order to go forward" as the church.