Make Your Own Advent Wreath- ideas plus two sets of readings

I’m encouraging every household to create and Advent Wreath for their celebrations this year. Below you’ll find some easy, inexpensive options, many you may already own.

This year, Advent begins Sunday, November 29th.

First, a Little History 
“Research by Prof. Haemig of Luther Seminary, St. Paul, points to Johann Hinrich Wichern (1808–1881), a Protestant pastor in Germany and a pioneer in urban mission work among the poor, as the inventor of the modern Advent wreath in the 19th century. During Advent, children at the mission school Rauhes Haus, founded by Wichern in Hamburg, would ask daily if Christmas had arrived. In 1839, he built a large wooden ring (made out of an old cartwheel) with 20 small red and 4 large white candles. A small candle was lit successively every weekday and Saturday during Advent. On Sundays, a large white candle was lit.

The custom gained ground among Protestant churches in Germany and evolved into the smaller wreath with four or five candles known today. Roman Catholics in Germany began to adopt the custom in the 1920s, and in the 1930s it spread to North America.” – Wikipedia

Ideas for Creating Your Own Advent Wreath
I’m a strong advocate for grace and creativity in Christian practices, especially practices that are relatively new. (Yes, a practice from the 1800’s is relatively new given Christians continue practices dating back thousands of years.)

With that said, now’s a great time to create an Advent Wreath for your home. Yes, you could buy an Advent Wreath. There’s nothing wrong with that. But, you could also create one. Each choice will be intentional, adding to its meaning. The act of creating the wreath will be a prayer in itself. The point of a Christian practice is to help you more deeply connect with God and others. What will help you connect?

COLORS 
Modern Advent Wreaths often use four purple or blue candles plus a white candle in the center. The purple/blue candles can represent many things- repentance, longing, waiting, sovereignty, night, etc. The white candle is often called the Christ Candle, representing Jesus, and isn’t lit till Christmas Eve. Sometimes, one of the purple/blue candles is replaced with a pink candle to represent joy.

Some Advent Wreaths use other colors. The “original” used red and white. What would it be like for the color of the candles to get lighter as you make your way to the white Christ Candle. What if the Christ Candle were gold or silver?

There’s no need to stress over authenticity or getting it right. Symbols are elastic. What colors will you choose? What do they represent for you?

CANDLES
Tapered candles will show the passage of time. Pillar candles are also beautiful. You could even use simple votive candles or tea lights. Be sure to use the needed candle sticks, platforms, or holders for your candles.

NUMBER OF CANDLES
The “original” wreath used well over 20 candles, lighting one a day from the beginning of Advent to Christmas Eve. This connects that wreath to the very popular Advent calendar or Countdown calendar. Most modern wreaths use 5 candles. One for each week of Advent plus the Christ Candle. How many will you use? Why?

SHAPE
Advent Wreaths are often shaped as a circle, a symbol of eternity. I’ve seen “wreaths” shaped like a spiral, a cross, or with the candles in a row like a path. What shape will you choose and why?

OPTIONAL ITEMS 

  • Fresh or artificial greenery. Evergreens, holly, and ivy are often used. How about poinsettia? What do you have in your yard which could be used?
  • Use figures from your nativity set to decorate your Advent Wreath. How about an empty manger in place of the Christ Candle? Replace it with the Christ Candle on Christmas Eve and/or place the baby in the manger. I have an olive wood carving from Israel of a pregant woman I love to use. On Christmas Eve, it’s replaced with a carving of a woman holding a baby.

advent wreath with MaryWhat other ideas do you have? Be sure to post your ideas plus a picture of your Advent Wreath in the comments! Don’t forget the explanation of why you chose what you did. 

ADVENT WREATH READINGS
Below you’ll find two simple options for readings to accompany lighting your Advent Wreath. You could also search the web for other readings, use the ones your congregation uses, or write your own.

1. Let in the Light
Four readings, each includes a scripture and concludes with a beautiful prayer by Dimitri of Rostov. Plus readings for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Epiphany.

2. Hope, Peace, Joy, Love
Only four readings. Each includes a scripture from Psalms and concludes with a Christmas carol.

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You are welcome to use either of these resources with proper attribution. (by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia, http://www.revlisad.com) Please leave a comment for information and permission to publish any of these resources in any form.

Advent and Christmas Bible Reading Plans

There are so many preparations for Christmas- decorating, shopping, cooking, gatherings. It can feel overwhelming and stressful, even lonely. It sounds cliche, but it’s easy to miss “the reason for the season” in the rush of pressure and consumerism.

The good news is it doesn’t have to be this way. We can prepare our souls in the midst of the other preparations. You have time for this. It just takes a plan.

Below you’ll find five seasonal Bible Reading Plans to choose from plus some ideas for integrating them into your day. If you have other ideas for using them or other spiritual practices that keep you close to God during the holidays, I’d love to hear about them. Thanks for leaving a comment.

May you find yourself at the end of this season even closer to Christ. – Lisa <><

Ideas for Using the Bible Reading Plans

  • Take time for reading before a meal, before bed, or first thing in the morning with your coffee or tea
  • Gather your loved ones around your nativity or advent wreath for the reading of the day. Wouldn’t it be fun to use your nativity figures to act out the reading!
  • Find a quiet place, light a candle, breathe, rest in God’s Word

1. Home for Christmas: Advent Wreath Readings Plus a Simple Bible Reading Plan
2020’s been a rough year so I created a plan with lots of resources and options. My hope is that this plan will help and encourage households as they worship together at home.

Home for Christmas contains the following:
• Four simple Advent Wreath readings
• Lyrics to five public domain Christmas carols, one for each week of Advent plus Christmas Eve.
• 18 scripture readings from Matthew, Luke, and John. Five readings for the first three weeks of Advent and three readings for the fourth week of Advent. Some scriptures are repeated so folks can savor the reading.
• Each scripture reading is accompanied by a title and sentence prayer
• Readings for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Epiphany which include scripture, prayer, and lighting the Advent Wreath.

CLICK HERE for a pdf for printing this resource as a booklet.

2. Live Hope, Give Hope: A Plan to Share the Goodness of Jesus at Christmas
Readings from Isaiah, Matthew, Luke, John, and Psalms
Also includes a sentence prayer and action prompts to Help, Offer, Pray, or Encourage
December 1-31, 6 readings per week
This was originally offered in 2016, so you’ll need to adapt the day for “worship and rest” to fit this year’s calendar.

3. Comfort and Joy: A Simple Bible Reading Plan for Christmas
Readings from Matthew, Luke, and Johnbible luke 2
Some of the readings are even repeated so you can go slow and go deep. It also includes a sentence prayer for each reading.
December 1-31, 5 readings per week
This was originally offered in 2014, so you’ll need to adapt the two days for “worship and rest” to fit this year’s calendar.

4. Jesus, the Coming Messiah- Advent Bible Readings from Old Testament to New
Old and New Testament Readings
December 1-25, everyday
This reading plan highlights the Old Testament names and prophesies concerning the Messiah which Christians see fulfilled in Jesus.

5. The Story of Christmas Reading Plan
Fifteen simple readings from Matthew, Luke, and John, will take you from the first visiting angel to the young family returning to Nazareth from being refugees in Egypt. If you would like to read about the birth of Jesus (Day 6) on Christmas Day, start this reading plan on December 20th with one scripture reading per day.

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You are welcome to use any/all of these resources with proper attribution. (by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia, http://www.revlisad.com) Please leave a comment for information and permission to publish any of these resources in any form.

Midweek Devotion- John 17, part 2

SCRIPTURE: John 17:11-19

BREATH PRAYERS:
IN: O worship the King
OUT: All glorious above

IN: O worship the King
OUT: Our Shield and Defender

IN: Maker, Defender
OUT: Redeemer and Friend

You’re encouraged to use the following process as you read scripture.
We use this process together on Wednesdays at 8:00AM EST.
https://www.facebook.com/TrinityUMCSarasota/

STILLNESS: Spend 5-20 minutes in silence looking to God and listening for God.

ATTENTION: Read or listen to the Scripture. What word, phrase, or verse captures your attention? Underline it or copy it onto a piece of paper.

CONNECTION: What connections do you see to other scriptures? To your own experience or current situation? Or, to the character or promises of God?

ACTION: What is God inviting you to trust, say, or do? How will your life be different because of this scripture?

PRAY: Talk to God about what you just experienced or anything else on your heart.

Recorded 9/2/2020

Bind Us Together
CCLI Song # 1228
Bob Gillman © 1977
Thankyou Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)
CCLI License # 686715

PUBLIC DOMAIN SONG:
O Worship the King Text: Robert Grant
Music: Attr. to Johann Michael Haydn

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Midweek Devotion- John 17, part 2 © 2020 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia

Breath Prayers Based on Luke 21

summer in the scriptures luke (1)

Breath Prayers based on Luke 21:29-33
The Lesson of the Fig Tree

Silently pray the phrase after IN on your breath in. Then silently pray the phrase after OUT on your breath out. Take your time. Breathe deeply. Choose one, a few, or all of them as is most helpful to you. ⁠

IN: Creator,
OUT: help me see

IN: Creator,
OUT: open my eyes to your signs

IN: Creator, speak to me
OUT: through your creation

IN: You will fulfill
OUT: Your promises

IN: Heaven and earth will pass away
OUT: But your words will not

IN: The kingdom of God is near
OUT: breathe out in silence

IN: You are near
OUT: breathe out in silence

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For the next few months, I’m reading a chapter from the Gospels each day. This is part of the Summer in the Scriptures reading plan sponsored by the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church. Click Here for the reading plan.

You’re most welcome to read along and to join the Facebook discussion group, Summer in the Scriptures. You don’t need to be a Methodist or attend a Methodist church. All are welcome and all means all.

As part of the Facebook group, I’ve been supplying prayers based on the day’s reading. Feel free to post your prayers and observations based on the readings here or there as well.

May the grace of the Gospels, the challenge, and the call, inspire us to great faith and great good works in Jesus’ name. – Lisa <

Breath Prayers based on Luke 21 © 2020 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

New YouTube Page

Join me in celebrating my new YouTube page!

Most Wednesdays I post a devotion. This includes a song or two, a few moments of stillness, a conversation on a scripture passage, and a prayer.

The devotion is the Facebook Live recording from the Trinity UMC Sarasota Facebook page. We gather Wednesdays at 8:00 AM EST. You’re also welcome to join us there.

I sometimes post a check-in of evening reflection questions as well. This is also a Facebook Live recording from the Trinity UMC Sarasota Facebook page. We gather Wednesdays at 7:00 PM EST. Again, you are most welcome.

Lastly, I sometimes post other things.

Different folks like different platforms. I hope this helps you make a connection to God.

– Lisa <><