By Kathy Noble
Worship resources for Advent 2010 as well as studies, devotions and plans for events are now on United Methodist websites and in new books from The Upper Room and Cokesbury.
All will help individuals, families and congregations focus their Advent activities and preparations for Christmas on the birth of Jesus Christ, the Incarnation of the Savior and King who also lived as a servant.
In the church and beyond
Lectionary-based worship resources explore the theme "A Life-giving Christmas" and challenge congregants to practice their faith. New from Rethink Church at United Methodist Communications, the sermon starters can be downloaded at www.umcom.org/rethinkchurch or ordered by calling (888) 346-3862. Each week's material includes ideas for individual and congregational responses as well as ways for the church to engage its community.
Also available is a multi-media packet with videos and discussion guides, dramatic sketches, and graphics for bulletins and invitations.
Two AdventsBlessings of the Manger [Cokesbury, www.cokesbury.com (800) 672-1789)] by the Rev. Jeanne Torrence Finley is the Abingdon Press Advent 2010 study based on the Revised Common Lectionary. Readers consider both the Advent of the birth of Jesus and the Second Advent, waiting for God's rule and reign to be fully realized. The first three lessons present the paradox, while Week Four and Christmas Eve focus on the Incarnation and the birth of Jesus. A separate leader's guide is available.
Read, reflect, journalMeeting the Messiah [Upper Room Books, www.upperroom.org/bookstore, (800) 972-0433] offers five daily devotions for each of six weeks. Kara Lassen Oliver explores the Advent, Christmas and Epiphany stories from the vantage point of the Holy Spirit, John the Baptist, Mary, the shepherds, Jesus and the Magi. Journaling will help readers reflect. Users can also be part of an online conversation at www.upperroom.org/adventstudy. A leader's guide is included.
Adults, youth and children are included in Christmas Gifts that Won't Break (Cokesbury) by the Rev. James W. Moore. The four-session studies are based on passages from the Nativity stories in Matthew and Luke. Study guides are included in each book.
All of the studies can be used in Sunday school and other settings. The children's edition includes plans for an afternoon or evening event. The adult book encourages weeknight meals each week followed by worship and study.
Offer hospitalityMakin' Room in the Inn (Cokesbury) by the Rev. Henry L. Masters Sr. considers "Christian hospitality through an African-American experience." Studies are "Makin' Room," living out hospitality in a diverse world; "Makin' Do" trusting God rather than wealth; "Makin' Up," the importance of forgiveness and reconnection; and "Makin' Time," the gift of presence. The Rev. S. Dianna Masters wrote the study guide, which is included.
Remember all the characters
Keep the wise men, the shepherds and Joseph in Christmas, urges retired Bishop Richard B. Wilke, but do not forget Herod. The king's nature and actions remind readers that "because there is evil in our world...we so desperately needed and need a Savior." Christmas: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (Cokesbury) has four lessons, each with Scripture and a brief reflection, discussion questions, a Christmas carol and a prayer.
Worship as a family
Liturgies to use with a Family Advent wreath are in the worship section of the General Board of Discipleship website, www.gbod.org/worship. Also included are congregational liturgies, suggested hymns and other resources to use in worship during Advent and Christmas. New resources are added often before and during the seasons.
Watch Interpreter OnLine, www.interpretermagazine.org, for links to additional resources and for seasonal "It Worked for Us" stories.
The Rev. Kathy Noble is editor of Interpreter and Interpreter OnLine, publications of United Methodist Communications, Nashville, Tenn.