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Resources and suggestions for making this season special in your church

Well … the church year is about to begin, and I’ve been getting a few questions about Advent resources. I’m no expert. This is, after all, only my fourth journey through the liturgical year (aka, the Church Calendar). 

But there’s so much I’ve come to love about it.

• For one, it helps us participate in the life of Christ by calling us into a rhtyhm that retraces His life on earth, His death and His resurrection.
• Secondly, it helps us celebrate with the wider Body of Christ—connecting us to the Church historic and the Church universal. 
• (I have written briefly about the Church Calendar and how observing as a spiritual practice can be helpful HERE. I may write more on it soon.)

C. S. Lewis wrote that a fellow student may be of help to other students in ways teachers sometimes cannot be because they have forgotten what it’s like to not know what they know. My hope is that as one who is learning, I may be of use to others travelling along the way.

 

DATES, COLORS AND THEMES:

• The Four Sundays: December 2, December 9, December 16, December 23
• Colors and Themes: Week 1 — purple, HOPE; Week 2 — purple, PEACE; Week 3 — JOY; Week 4 — purple, LOVE

 

PRAYERS:

To me, it’s hard to beat the prayers in the Book of Common Prayer (BCP). Find a link to the 1979 version free online HERE. There is also a nice iPhone app with lectionary readings and prayers out of both the RCL and the BCP. Download it HERE.

First Sunday of Advent:

TRADITIONAL:
Almighty God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which thy Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the quick and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

CONTEMPORARY:
Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Second Sunday of Advent  

TRADITIONAL:
Merciful God, who sent thy messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

CONTEMPORARY:
Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Third Sunday of Advent

TRADITIONAL:
Stir up thy power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let thy bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with thee and the Holy Ghost, be honor and glory, world without end. Amen.

CONTEMPORARY:
Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

Fourth Sunday of Advent

TRADITIONAL:
We beseech thee, Almighty God, to purify our consciences by thy daily visitation, that when thy Son Jesus Christ cometh he may find in us a mansion prepared for himself; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

CONTEMPORARY:
Purify our conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation, that your Son Jesus Christ, at his coming, may find in us a mansion prepared for himself; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


DEVOTIONALS/PRAYER BOOKS:

• Mark D. Roberts has a nice online devotional that guides you through each week. Mark is an Evangelical theologian, and his devotional includes Scriptures, prayers and recommended hymns. Check out his free online devotional HERE.
• Phillip Reinders has combed through classic Protestant confessions and catechisms and put together a wonderful prayer book called Seeking God’s Face. It is Holly’s and my favorite one to use because of its straightforward language, clean layout (no flipping pages to look up Scriptures; it’s all printed out), and historic prayers and confessions. Each day includes a Psalm, a Scripture to meditate on, guided “free prayer,” a written prayer and more. Check it out (and “Look Inside”) on Amazon HERE.

 

RECOMMENDED READING:

• For an evangelical perspective on practicing the liturgical year, you would be hard pressed to find a better voice than the late Robert Webber. His “Ancient-Future” series is a gift to the Church. Ancient-Future Time is an easy read, with chapters on specific seasons of the year, making it a valuable reference and resource. Check it out on Amazon HERE.

Mark D. Robert’s ebook, Discovering Advent, is a short, helpful explanation of Advent. His story of discovering the practice of Advent as an Evangelical pastor late in his ministry life answers the “why” question many Evangelicals may have. Check it out HERE.

• If you’re up for it, Joan Chittister’s book The Liturgical Year is a beautiful explanation of how marking time can be a spiritual practice. Joan is a Benedictine sister and writes from that perspective, but has the modern person and not a monastic in mind. Check out her book HERE.

What about you? What resources, prayers or even apps would you add to this list?  

Glenn Packiam Glenn Packiam is an Executive Pastor at New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where he oversees Spiritual Formation and serves as the teaching pastor for NewLifeSundayNight. He is one of the founding leaders and songwriters for the Desperation Band and the writer of the well-loved worship songs, “Your Name,” “Everyone (Praises)” and “My Savior Lives.” Glenn is also the author of Butterfly in Brazil: How Your Life Can Make a World of Difference and most recently, Secondhand Jesus: Trading Rumors of God for a Firsthand Faith. He recently released his first solo album, Rumors and Revelations. Visit Glenn at GlennPackiam.com.

More from Glenn Packiam or visit Glenn at http://www.GlennPackiam.typepad.com

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