Advent is here! We’re beginning a new liturgical year: Year B. And this year, the Faith Formation & Education writers (Kathy, Kathryn, and Bob) have collaborated with Fr. Matt on an Advent devotional for families. We are happy to present it over the coming weeks and hope you feel supported by the reflections and prayerful activities.
Two more things to note: Please scroll down to find an invitation to a whole community celebration at the start of Advent, this Sunday at 10am. All ages are invited to come and sing, pray, play, and light your Advent wreaths. Second, you will find in this issue a simple family candle-lighting ritual to use at home throughout this season of light. Read on for more ways to prepare your hearts for the coming of Christ at Christmas.
Blessings and peace,
Faith Formation & Education
Grace and Peace
St. Paul knew he needed to write a difficult letter to his friends in Corinth. The church in Corinth was having a difficult time. They were arguing a lot. They were deeply divided. Their members came from different backgrounds, with different gifts and beliefs. They argued about justice and worship. They were experiencing a lot of uncertainty. St. Paul wanted to remind them that even though they were experiencing these arguments and division, they were one community. One body in Jesus. He wanted to remind them that their diversity is what made them good and beautiful and holy in the eyes of God. But he knew it might be a difficult thing for them to hear. So he chose to begin his letter with these beautiful words: “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 1:3).
This Advent, many of us are also experiencing uncertainty, division, and worry. Living in New York City in 2020 feels, in many ways, a lot like living in ancient Corinth. Advent is the yearly reminder that God looked at the world exactly as it is and fell deeply, madly in love with us. Every single one of us. God fell so recklessly in love with us that God decided to “tear open the heavens and come down” as the Prophet Isaiah sang (Isa. 64:1–9). God sent God’s only son to take on flesh and blood in Jesus, to live and die rise again with and for us. Jesus, who again and again shows us God’s grace, peace, and love. No matter how messy, imperfect, or broken you might feel — that God loves you with a deep, reckless, powerful love. God's love can transform our lives, our communities, our world.
So, this Advent: may you know the grace and peace of God, revealed to us in Jesus. And may God rekindle your hope for a better, even more beautiful world.
The Rev. Matt Welsch
Lighting the Advent Wreath
Gather around your advent wreath(s) as a household. Take a moment to breathe. Read through one or more of the readings. Maybe sing a song. Choose a leader or read for yourself:
Leader: Advent is a season of expectation: a time when we prepare our hearts and spirits for the birth of Jesus. Each week in Advent, we light another candle in our wreath. As it becomes brighter and brighter, it helps us remember that Jesus brings the light and love of God into the world.
Light the first purple candle.
Reader: Jesus is coming! We light the first candle, which represents hope.
All: God, give us hope! Amen.
Please join the Discovery and Children’s Time groups this Sunday at 10am for an all-church virtual Advent Celebration! We’ll unpack our Advent at Home kits together and demonstrate some ways to use the items to prepare our hearts and homes for Christmas. Everyone is welcome.
- Room for a Little One, a lovely Nativity story for young children, with deep meaning for all
- Advent Prayers & Devotions from the Rev. Matt Welsh and the Faith Formation & Education team
- Family Worship: Home Edition
- Advent images for visio divina or other meditations by Kathy Bozzuti-Jones (see below)