INFORMATION FOR ADVENT DEVOTIONALS 2019
Advent 2019 begins on Sunday, December 1, 2019 and ends on Wednesday, December 25, 2019, Christmas. Christmas, on Wednesday, a day for which school children pray and superintendents dread. Calendar wise it promises the most time off from school (Joy to the World!) for Christmas and New Year, all political correctness aside.
A few years back it looked like the BUMC tradition of writing Advent and Lenten devotionals was about to die. A few of us revived it. The concept is simple. Anyone from the congregation writes a devotional(s) on a theme, usually containing scripture with their name. (The name could be a pseudonym.) If you fear writing, the copy editor will make you look good. Devotions are submitted, arranged, informally published and handed out NLT the first Sunday of Advent to be read each day (or in one sitting if you want) of Advent by the members of the congregation at home.
The point is that WE write the devotionals for each other. Sure, you could take a screen shot of something you like on Facebook, and some folks have, but the intimacy of you writing to the congregation and the thoughts being special for you are what make it special for everyone.
For sure we need 24 Advent devotionals. We could have an introduction and a devotional for Christmas. I’ll take both, so 24 devotionals. We just need a theme, guidance and people to write. I’m shooting for a due date of November 10, 2019. If we have too many (right!) we can always publish the extras. Email to Carmen at email@example.com.
This year our Advent Worship Theme is “Heaven and Nature Sing! 200 Years of Joy to the World.” Your devotional should somehow line up with the theme, but if it is about Christmas, we’ll take it.
Here are the sub-topics for Advent. Feel free to use them to drive your thinking.
Sunday, Nov 25, 2019(Pre-Advent)--Elusive Joy: A Blue Christmas or long Night Service
Sunday, December 1, 2019—“Prepare Him Room: Hopeful Joy”
Sunday, December 8, 2019—“Repeat the Sounding Joy: Loving Joy”
Sunday, December 15, 2019—“Make the Blessings Known: Unabashed Joy”
Sunday, December 22, 2019—“Make the Nations Prove: Peaceful Joy”
Tuesday, December 24, 2019 (Christmas Eve)—“The Lord is Come: Incarnate Joy”
Sunday, December 29, 2019(Post Advent)—“Wonders of His Love: Compassionate Joy”
Only the bold dates are in Advent, all are usable sub-topics to base your devotional.
Format. Maximum, one page, single spaced, 12 point, margins one inch all around. Make sure your devotional is readable in Word, sent to the office in an e-mail and, if it has any fancy graphics which aren’t reproduceable they will be dumped.
EXAMPLE (may or may not be used this year):
Christmas Devotional, “The Christmas Orange”
“On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold (Christmas Naval Orange) and of frankincense and of myrrh.” Matthew 2:11
We’ve spent Christmas in Germany and Korea among other places. Before leaving home and on leave during college, Christmas was always in Ohio, at home. Maine and Ohio bore the bulk of them for me. Nancy mostly Maine. What could Christmas possibly have to do with an orange? Not just any orange, but a big juicy naval orange. I am, as you know, not fond of anything “naval or navy”
Every year the Men of the Church (originally the Marshallville, Ohio Evangelical United Brethren Church and later the Marshallville, Ohio UMC) would arrange for fresh Florida oranges to be shipped to the church to be given out, one to each child. I think one of the more successful farmers had a place down there. (Our family got one vacation trip by car to Florida one year to watch fake mermaids breathe out of hoses. Wasn’t impressed.) I am not sure of the origin of the tradition of the orange on Christmas. I have heard of it from other churches. The British did get the name “limies” because they made their sailors treat scurvy by eating limes. Oops, nautical theme. I doubt the orange was anything so complicated, but as anyone in Ohio, Maine and most Northern States can note, the winters are long, and a big, ripe, juicy, naval orange makes the whole Winter brighter.
We kids could not wait for them. It was love at first sight, consumed almost as quickly. On Christmas Eve at the church there was no delayed gratification involved, unless imposed by each family, which it was. Those other kids were such suckers, until my mother got the hint, or maybe thought it up, and made us wait until we got home. Maybe, as psychiatrists say, I projected my own suffering and delayed gratification on others who got to eat their orange immediately and I didn’t.
We were not poor by any measure, we received gifts. Conversely neither were we rich, except in the common richness of that orange. I can’t explain it. Someone must have figured it out long before. It was brilliant. Did kids in Florida get an ice cube for Christmas Eve? Not sure I connected the birth of Jesus, gift of salvation and the orange immediately, but eventually I did.
Just a mysteriously a simple orange morphs into the best Christmas gift ever, God’s gift to us on Christmas, while mysteriously simple, was marvelously great. From a kid’s perspective, new baby, no big deal. From Mary and Joseph’s perspective, first baby, big deal. From the perspective of a world of sin and suffering, Mary and Joseph, Heaven, angels, shepherds, Wise Men and Herod, very big deal. A big deal that would be completed in a tomb. Joy to the World.