Fourth Sunday of Advent: Week of December 19, 2021
Begin your devotion time by praying this prayer: God of love, we patiently wait for Jesus’ coming at Christmas. Guide and focus our hearts to love and worship you as we celebrate the arrival of Jesus. Amen.
Reflect on the Way of Love together: This week’s practice on the Way of Love is WORSHIP. Luke 1:46-55 is a well-known passage of Scripture also called the Magnificat. What do you know about the Magnificat? How is Mary singing the Magnificat an act of worship? How will you rejoice in worship on Christmas Eve, which we will celebrate later this week?
Adult and Small Child
Read: Luke 1:39-55
Reflect: There are times we need to be with the people who understand us the best. For me, that was my grandmother, my Mema. She always knew what I needed. We would pick green beans out of her garden and sit and talk as we prepared them for dinner. Mary needed her cousin Elizabeth. She was someone she could talk to, who would understand her. Both of these women were dealing with a pregnancy that was outside of the norm, and they needed each other. Both of them understood that God was taking the next step to bring God’s love to all the world. Mary was bursting with hope, not only for her child, but for the world. Hope that all things will be made new. Hope that the world would be turned upside down and therefore right side up. Both Elizabeth and Mary had been blessed by God. They were aware of God’s special kindness to them. Mary’s love for God overflowed in her song as she prayed that God’s dream for the world would become reality.
Respond: When Elizabeth saw her cousin Mary, she “blessed” her. To ask God’s blessing on a person is both to thank God for this person and to ask God to look on them with special kindness. Sometimes you will hear a prayer that blesses God! The prayer my family says at meals begins like that: “Blessed are you, Lord our God, King of the Universe.” In saying this, we remember how special God is and we worship God. Think about who you would like to ask God to bless; put their names on strips of paper, make a paper chain of blessing, and add it to your special place. You can continue to add people each day. How long will your chain get? As you add the names, ask God’s blessing on each person on the chain.
- Linnae Peterson
Adult and Elementary
Read: Luke 1:39-55
Reflect: In the Gospel of Luke, we hear the story of two women, Mary and Elizabeth. Each woman is about to have a baby. Mary is about to give birth to Jesus. Christians will soon celebrate that birth in a very special way. What is your church like during Christmas time? Is it a day when people are happy to see one another, be with one another, and share Christmas together? I am sure people at your church are so happy and excited to see you for Christmas. That is what Elizabeth experiences when she meets Mary. Elizabeth is so happy and excited because even though Jesus isn’t born yet, she knows that there is something special about Jesus and the things that Jesus will do. Even the baby in Elizabeth’s belly is just as excited about the baby in Mary’s belly. They can’t wait to meet each other and share life together. It’s kind of like the feeling of waiting to open presents on Christmas morning.
Respond: Go to (or watch online) one or more worship services. While in worship, pay attention to what makes you feel happy and what brings you excitement. Did you see someone you know and like being around? Did you sing one of your favorite songs? Did someone say something that made you happy? Think about all these things and remember that they are happiness and excitement about Jesus. Happy because Jesus was born and did everything he did. Excitement because Jesus is your friend and invites you to live the way He did.
- Patrick Kangrga
Adult and Youth
Read: Luke 1:39-55
Reflect: What a way to experience the Holy Spirit! In this passage, both Mary and Elizabeth are experiencing God through the joy they are feeling. Elizabeth’s baby leaps for joy in her womb at this.
Respond: Grab a piece of paper or a journal and write your thoughts about this prompt: How do you worship God? How do you celebrate when you have received the good news?
- Luz Montes
Adult and Adults
Read: Luke 1:39-55
Reflect: This Scripture finally makes it feel like Christmas is almost here! We’re hearing the story of Mary traveling to see Elizabeth and Mary’s song. Elizabeth’s son, we now know as John the Baptist moves when he hears Mary speak. What’s important to remember is that Elizabeth was considered to be well past child bearing age when she had John. Her being pregnant is incredible, add the layer of Mary’s pregnancy at the same time; amazing.
Both prayer and worship magnify and praise the Lord. But what differentiates prayer from worship is the people. The communal aspect turns prayer into worship. Worship is about the people around us. These women are worshipping God, giving thanks and rejoicing for the gifts in life they have been given. Both of these women are having babies, Elizabeth’s baby even jumps for joy when he hears Mary’s voice. Isn’t that incredible? These women recognize how amazing, truly amazing, this moment in time is. Together they worship God and the promises that are being fulfilled within them.
Respond: The pandemic has certainly changed the way we might view worship. Is morning prayer over Zoom worship? What aspects of Zoom church make it communal? What aspects don’t make it communal? Take notes, what about communal worship do you love? Worship doesn’t have to be just sitting in the pews on Sunday mornings. In what ways can you worship outside of Sunday church? Make a list and try them out!
- Erin Sample