Dr. E. Dale Locke and Rev. Trevor Johnston
All in Weekend
Advent is a season observed in many Christian churches as a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas. The term is a version of the Latin word meaning “coming”. Advent begins 4 Sundays before Christmas and lasts until Christmas Day. This year the first Sunday in Advent is December 3.
- Did your family of origin recognize Advent? If so, how was Advent recognized?
- Read Matthew 1:23 – “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). This verse is often associated with the season of Advent since it elicits a sense of expectation, awe and wonder. Consider this one verse of scripture, and share what thoughts and feelings it evokes in you.
This season of Advent often brings about a different kind of preparation, one that may not evoke the kind of awe and wonder that the season is intended to bring out. Often the hurried rush and fast busy pace of the season is what is pronounced.
My pace can distort my perspective about how life works.
- Talk about the ‘To Do’ List you have as you prepare for the Christmas holiday. Does this list evoke awe and wonder for the celebration of the coming of Immanuel? Why or why not?
Writer Lewis Grant coined the phrase “sunset fatigue” to describe the exhausted state in which many arrive home at the end of a day. Do you often feel like you’re done before the day is? Lewis Grant lists the following characteristics of ‘sunset fatigue’:
- You find yourself rushing even when you have no reason to hurry.
- There’s an underlying tension causing sharp words or quarrels.
- You sense a loss of gratitude and wonder.
- You indulge in self-destructive escapes from fatigue such as watching too much TV or substance abuse.
- Can you relate to any of the symptoms of ‘sunset fatigue’? Share your experiences of ‘sunset fatigue’, and also share ways you have or can overcome it.
- Read Psalm 39:4-7 – 4 “Show me, Lord, my life’s endand the number of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is.
5 You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Everyone is but a breath, even those who seem secure. 6 Surely everyone goes around like a mere phantom; in vain they rush about, heaping up wealth without knowing whose it will finally be. 7 But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you.”
Re-read verses 4 and 5 together, and talk about why it’s important to consider just how fleeting life is.
My pace can destroy God’s image within me.
- Re-read verse 6 in Psalm 39, and think about that word ‘phantom’, which means ‘shadow’ or anappearance or illusion without material substance, as a mirage, or optical Why can living life at a constant fast pace destroy God’s image within us?
- Talk about what we can do to avoid ‘going around like a mere phantom, rushing about in vein’?
My pace can distract me from finding where lasting hope is found
- Re-read Psalm 39:7 out loud together – 7 But now, Lord, what do I look for?My hope is in you.” Now read it again, only add a long pause between the question and the answer. Have you ever asked the question, ‘What do I look for, Lord?’ If so, talk about it.
- Discuss the hope you find in the Lord, and what helps you remember that hope is in the Lord.
- Read Matthew 1:23 again: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).
Max Lucado, in his book ‘God Came Near’, writes: God became a man. While the creatures of earth walked unaware, Divinity arrived. Heaven opened herself and placed her most precious one in a human womb.
The omnipotent, in one instant, made himself breakable. He who had been spirit became pierce-able. He who was larger than the universe became an embryo. And he who sustains the world with a word chose to be dependent upon the nourishment of a young girl.
God as a fetus. Holiness sleeping in a womb. The creator of life being created.
God was given eyebrows, elbows, two kidneys, and a spleen. He stretched against the walls and floated in the amniotic fluids of his mother.
God had come near.
- Talk about the amazing truth of “God with us” as Max Lucado describes.
This Christmas Season, God has come to be with you…will you be with Him?
- Share ways you will be attentive to God’s presence with you, and how you will be present with Him this Advent season.