In the United States, Christmastime and thoughts of home just go together. “I’ll be Home for Christmas,” and “There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays,” are two of the most popular holiday songs, year after year. Christmas movies and television shows regularly feature stories of people going to their family home or extended family home over the holidays. Among the rituals we create for this darkest time of the year in the Northern hemisphere, perhaps the majority of them are associated with either going home or doing special things at home-- whether lighting candles and having a time of family prayer during Advent, or decorating a Christmas tree, or caroling through a neighborhood, or hosting festive “open house” parties for friends, neighbors, and colleagues. It’s all about home.
Advent and Christmas Season are about another kind of homecoming, the homecoming of Christ to redeem and renew us, this earth, and all creation till “heaven and nature sing” with joy eternally. The Scriptures the church uses for Advent focus first on the final fulfillment, and later on the beginning of that fulfillment in Jesus. As they seek God’s joyous desire, they also make plain just how far from it we have been and challenge us with just how far we have to go, ourselves, to begin to live into it.
This year’s Advent and Christmas Season series embraces the secular seasonal metaphor of homecoming to wrap the challenging biblical texts this season gives us. Each week’s service will invite us to “unwrap” something that leads us toward making our hearts, our lives, our families, our communities, and our world more like the home Christ’s ultimate homecoming will make it to be. And each week, we also suggest an afternoon or evening gathering for the whole church to experience a seasonal tradition together.
NOTE: This download will not include hymn suggestions, bulletin covers and supplemental images, or additional resource links.
Those will be added to the website via the individual links for each week below.
Texts, Scriptures, and Weekly Invitations
December 3, 2017
Scripture: Isaiah 64:1-9
Invitation: Long for Christ’s Return
Activity: St. Nicholas Day
December 10, 2017
Scripture: Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13
Invitation: Attend to the Intersections (Loving-kindness/faithfulness, Righteousness/peace)
Activity: Ugly Sweater Day and Christmas Parties
December 17, 2017
Scripture: I Thessalonians 5:16-24
Invitation: Rejoice in God’s Homecomings
December 24, 2017 (morning)
Scripture: Luke 1: 46-55
Invitation: Turn with courage because Christ makes this world God’s home
Activity: Las Posadas
December 24, 2017 (evening)
Scripture: Luke 2:1-7 (8-20)
Invitation: Become a manger for Jesus
Note: This is designed as a brief (30-minute) service of Word and Table to allow congregations to offer it at several times through the evening so all can find a convenient time to celebrate Communion, bringing families and friends who may be with them.
December 31, 2017
Scripture: Luke 2:22-40
Invitation: Choose your motives for the year to come
Activity: Watch Night