As you develop this Advent/Christmas series together and each service within it, pay particular attention to three things:
1. Series Dynamics — Start strong, move confidently, and conclude the series with a segue into the series to follow.
2. The Historic Seasonal and Biblical Emphases — What many people know or think they know about Advent and Christmas is far more informed by television, movies, and other stories and songs than the centuries of witness of the church in its celebration and the Scriptures the church has used to inform it. As you work with the larger themes of these two seasons in your team (the culmination of all things in Christ at his second coming and contemplation and praise for the implications of God’s incarnation in Christ), be sure to call particular attention to what the Scriptures themselves say and, where needed, do not say. Use this series as an opportunity to help clear the muddle the wider culture makes of these seasons and to celebrate and ponder anew the wonders God has actually promised and given.
3. What’s happening now in the life of your congregation, your local community, The United Methodist Church, your nation, and the wider world? Ours is an incarnational faith, not a theoretical one. While we seek to live as a holy people who are not “of the world,” we are called to live precisely in it exactly as it is. Give attention to these matters not only in your preaching and singing, but also in your praying.
Leccionario en Español, Leccionario Común Revisado: Consulta Sobre Textos Comunes.
Lectionnaire en français, Le Lectionnaire Œcuménique Révisé
Lecionário em português, Lecionário comum revisado
Isaiah 2:1-5 Out of the house of the Lord shall come wisdom and instruction, and all nations will convert their weapons of war into implements for sustaining life.
Psalm 122 (UMH 845) A psalm rejoicing in Jerusalem, a foretaste of what Isaiah prophesies.
Romans 13:11-14 Salvation draws ever nearer, so live in the fullness of Christ, freed from the power of sinful desires.
Matthew 24:36-44 The coming of the Son of Man will be a surprise, so be ready and wait for it!
Today is New Year’s Day in the Christian calendar.
Today also marks the beginning of a brand new collection of lectionary-driven, series-based, collaboratively developed planning resources on our website. You can download the entire set of resources in the series in a single .pdf, or you may prefer to use the individual parts of these resources as they appear in discrete sections on the website.
Today we begin Year A of the lectionary cycle. During Year A, we read primarily from Matthew’s gospel. During the Ordinary Time after Epiphany and after Pentecost, we read from Paul’s correspondence with Christians in Corinth, Rome, Philippi, and Thessalonica. After Pentecost we also hear the stories again of our “first families:” Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph and Moses. You may find Exploring the Revised Common Lectionary a helpful resource to use for presentations in Sunday School or other venues to “lay out” what scriptures will be covered in the lectionary during the year ahead for your congregation.
Today’s theme launching the Advent through Epiphany Sunday series is “Watch.” We begin Advent where centuries of Christians have begun it, responding to the call of Jesus to his first disciples to be on watch for God’s culmination of all things.
Today is also observed as United Methodist Student Day in the Program Calendar. The special offering collected this day supports scholarships for United Methodist undergraduate, graduate and seminary students. See the “explainer video” for details.
Additional Planning Resources
Introduction to the Season of Advent (BOW 238)
Consider putting this in your newsletter or at the top of your order of service for this Sunday.
Advent Wreath Resources: BOW 262, 2016 Candle Devotionals (based on Isaiah readings)
Ecumenical Prayer Cycle: Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger