Second Sunday in Advent
The Advent devotionals in this series were created for use by families, but they could also be adapted for use with youth or adults, in a group, or for individual reflection.
Music, art, and quotes from other materials will accompany each week’s devotional. Reflection questions will be a part of every program. You may use these questions in a discussion group, in your family (including young children), or possibly a youth group.
Each reflection time consists of the following:
- Candle Lighting and an excerpt from a hymn. It is recommended that you use a hymnal and sing the whole verse!
- Recitation, a short expression. If you are doing this as a family or in a group, it’s recommended that you split the expression into parts and have each group speak out different parts of the sentence. This is especially important for children.
- Reflection on the Scripture and/or topic for the week.
- Discussion questions to help you explore what you think and feel. No one knows the mind of God and therefore the thoughts that come to mine are worthy of entertaining. Those meeting in a group should ask questions of one another. Think about what each one says. Ask questions like, “Why do you think that?” This will help get a bigger picture of each other’s thoughts
- Prayer that can be a quiet prayer, a walking prayer, a movement prayer, an art prayer, a musical prayer.
The themes for each week are Light, Love, Joy, and Peace.
Optional: Do you have a movement (from yoga, etc.) that can help embody these “concepts” deeper into our bodies? Do that every night! (i.e., Sun Salutation for Light or Warrior for Love)
Advent Week 2: Love
by Kathleen Stone
Sing “Away in a Manger,” The United Methodist Hymnal #217, verse 2, as you light the second candle.
If you have more than one person reflecting together, read the following as a call and response. If there’s only one person, read it three or four times until it comes into your heart.
Voice 1: We remember tonight:
Voice 2: We yearn for God’s love!
What does lowing mean? Do you know? (It’s a deep sound of contentment, often used when a herd of cattle move across a very good field and are content.) Have you ever heard a cow make a deep contented sound?
After the song writer tells us, “the little Lord Jesus, no crying he makes.” Why do you think the author of this hymn would say that baby Jesus didn’t cry?
The second half of verse 2 in “Away in a Manger” goes like this: “ I love thee, Lord Jesus, look down from the sky, and stay by my cradle till morning is nigh.”
Do you think Jesus is in the sky? The song asks Jesus to be right by the author’s cradle! What does that mean?
Although Jesus is with us and was born into the world, sometimes we yearn deeply for a Jesus who will fix the world around us to be more loving. Maybe we think Jesus is just looking down from the sky, removed and detached, or maybe it feels like that world of love and kindness is far away and Jesus should help us more. How do we remember that Jesus is by our bedside all the time, even in troubled moments?
Another song we often sing during the Advent season is “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” (The United Methodist Hymnal,#211). Christians often use “Emmanuel” as a name for Jesus. It is a Hebrew word and was introduced in the book of Isaiah, long before Jesus was born. We sing this song almost every Advent because of its profound longing for a better world. The song has some ancient hymnody to it so that also makes it feels very, very old, with the original Latin words dating to the ninth century. Why is an old, old song comforting? Why is it challenging? Why is it important?
In this version of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” is sung in Arabic and English. Arabic in its earliest forms dates back to 800 BC and is in the same language family as Aramaic, the language Jesus spoke. Let’s listen.
Copyright: The Church of Latter-day Saints. “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” Words and Music: 9th Century Latin Chant; Translated by John Mason Neale Arr. by Allie Gardner Policky. Sung by: Allie Gardner and Wade Farr. Pianist: CJ Madsen.
What did you think? What feelings did you experience during the singing of the song? Discuss with one another Of you’re alone, allow yourself the depth of feeling found in that deep desire for a better world.
As Christians, we keep hoping that we might learn to love one another as God loves us, as Mary and Joseph loved Jesus, and as Jesus taught us to love. Sometimes we hope and long for that love because it doesn’t feel like it’s around us. Everyone everywhere longs for a love that really loves us, really sees us, really forgives us, really wants us to live without other people hurting us or without us hurting other people. It is a good earthly dream, for sure.
What do you think? Who around you do you think is yearning most for love? Who is alone and lonely or going through a rough time? What might you do this week to really, really love someone who might be yearning for God’s, Mary and Joseph’s, Jesus’ your love?
Come, Emmanuel – God is with us — Come Jesus and make our hearts full of love. Amen.
Kathleen Stone is former staff of United Women in Faith and a retired elder in the Greater New Jersey Annual Conference. She is lead writer for the 2023 United Women in Faith children’s curriculum, We are the Kin-dom!