Advent 2020

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An Introduction to Advent

The Church’s invitation in Advent is twofold: to remember Christ’s glorious coming into the world and to anticipate his mysterious return one day.
READING FOR WEEK ONE
READING FOR WEEK TWO
READING FOR WEEK THREE
READING FOR WEEK FOUR
CHRISTMAS EVE

We remember the story of when God himself came and took residence among us. Yet he came not as many then expected, and still, if we’re honest, not as many of us now would have necessarily liked him to. He came not as a great warrior or mighty king. Nor did he come with power and order to suddenly deliver his people from the hands of their oppressors. This God came humble and quiet. He came a helpless baby, like each and every one of us. He came among the lowly, the marginalized. Almost hidden, lying in a manger. Enfleshed holiness that would grow as a son, in a particular culture, steeped in Judiasm, and when ready would set the greatest Kingdom the world could know into motion through miracles, teachings, and upside down ethics – but more so through a cross, a death, a resurrection.

And we anticipate that someday near or far this same God will return again to make what he began so long ago full, complete, and final.

We’re all too aware that there are still oppressors and stories too heavy to bear. The suffering, the marginalized, the forgotten are still among us. And we are not too different from them. So until then we live, with open hearts and wounded hands, much like the child. And we watch. We proclaim. In prayer and action, we drag the sorrowful, the dirty, the whole of ourselves towards the bright and glorious day all of humanity was promised, when our King returns and his peace and love, grace and mercy shall reign and fill our hearts with joy.

So in a word, this remembering and anticipation, brings about in our souls longing. In a culture where our calendars are overflowing, our eyes are glazed over with the blue lights of screens, every question is reduced to thoughts and formulas, our neighbors threaten with hatred and violence, we find we live with fearful, caged hearts…

Longing though, again if we’ll give ourselves to her in Advent, will lead us towards hope. The invitation in Advent is to pay attention to the longing, to give ourselves to it, to open our hearts again. The invitation is to prepare room in us for Christ to be born, to dwell, to live within us now. It is not past. It is not future. Hope has arrived on the scene. In Advent, he comes to us fully – that we may grasp his beauty, his love, his glory again.

This Advent, may the longing lead you – and all of us – home to him.

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here,
Until the Son of God appear!

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!

A Word on How to Use this Guide

What is provided for you here is a simple prayer and scripture guide, adapted from the Church of England’s daily prayer guides, that covers the duration of the Advent season. It is meant to be used individually or within your house church, family, and friends for the purpose of prayer, meditation, and reflection. You will also find these themes and some of the scriptures and prayers mirrored in our Advent Sunday gatherings and on Christmas Eve.

Each week will begin with a reflection written by a Bloom Staff member. These reflections will cover the historical themes of Advent: Hope, Faith, Joy, and Peace. These reflections are intended to help guide your heart and mind each week as you ponder and await Christ. These themes will also mirror the themes of the Advent candles each week during our Sunday gatherings.

Then, each week will provide for you a simple format of morning and evening prayer, complete with daily scripture readings. You are encouraged to use some or all of the readings during morning and evening prayer. Again, these readings follow the lectionary and each Sunday will also be the readings we hear together as a community, alongside the global and historical Church.

This prayer guide is intended to be one to quiet your soul and wonder with God, as we invite Him to come and be born in us. Take it slow, if some days you choose only to sit with a portion of it, that is enough. If you want to respond in worship or journaling, feel free to do so. If you want to have a conversation with someone close to you about what the Spirit stirs within you, do so. Our hope is that you would find new spaces of wonder, peace, hope, and joy with Christ. Let the Spirit guide you however he may.

Lastly, Advent and Christmas is a season that prepares us to make room for Christ to live within us and among us, which naturally opens us to generosity and hospitality. Therefore, we invite you to give out of your abundance and even out of your lack. We would encourage you to give directly to organizations in our city and world who are close to your heart; or as always you can give directly to Bloom (bloom.church/give) as we seek together to live out the call and ream God has given us.

As you awaken to the longing of your hearts this Advent, may you remember that it is Christ himself who comes and lives within you and may you anticipate him to reign in you fully and anew. Come Christmas may your hearts and eyes be full of his great love and joy.

With love,

The Bloom Staff

Week One: Hope

Weekly Reflection: Hope

This year’s season of Advent comes at a desolate moment in our world’s history.

A global pandemic, wide-spread racial tension, mental/emotional/physical pain and unrest, and an overall dark and all but hopeless point in time that can feel as if it’s seeping into our very bones.

And somehow, the first week of advent brings a seemingly impossible call to Hope.

As we gather around the advent wreath this week, we light a candle and these words given to us by the church are said:

People of God: awake!
The day is coming soon
when you shall see God face to face.
Remember the ways and the works of God.
God calls you out of darkness
to walk in the light of his coming.
You are God’s children.
Lord, make us one as we walk with Christ
today and for ever.

Amen.

We’re implored to open our eyes, to look for Christ in all things and all people, to unify, and to walk in light, even amid arguably one of the darkest periods most of us have walked through. And yet the call remains to remember God, and to seek to be the people God has made us to be: a people filled to overflowing with the Light of Christ.

We’re implored to open our eyes, to look for Christ in all things and all people, to unify, and to walk in light, even amid arguably one of the darkest periods most of us have walked through. And yet the call remains to remember God, and to seek to be the people God has made us to be: a people filled to overflowing with the Light of Christ. 

 As I think about the year that we’ve collectively had, I’m beginning to see that this week’s appeal to hope might be exactly what we need right now. And, while this may seem like an insurmountable task considering our current circumstances, we’ve been given example after example of what there is to hope for. We’ve seen families fed, rent paid, strengthened support for those who are hurting and lonely, and shared life continue to happen despite the odds stacked against us. We’ve seen and will continue to see the Spirit place dreams in our hearts and the world becomes a better place because of it. And as adversity plague us almost relentlessly, we’ve seen the resiliency of the church and the people that make it up.  

Hope is exactly what we need, and not a passive hope that sits in the background as the world spins around us, but an active hope that pushes us towards light and away from darkness. A Hope that propels us towards a vision of the future that is brilliant and beautiful, full of the light of Christ illuminating the darkness around us. This Hope won’t come easy, but it is a necessary commitment that must be made in order to be a light in this dark and dreary world. So let us open our eyes to the hope that has been given to us in Christ. Let us commit to being harbingers and heralds for the hope that is given to us in Christ. And let us shine so brightly with that hope, that it infiltrates the dark and hopeless places of our hearts and our world, so that the Kingdom of God can break through. 

— Seth 

“I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.” Ephesians 1:18 

O come, our Wisdom from on high,
Who ordered all things, far and nigh;
To us the path of knowledge show,
And cause us in her ways to go.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel,
Shall come to you, O Israel!

Readings for Week One

November 29

  • Isaiah 1:1-9
  • 2 Peter 3:1-10
  • Matthew 25:1-13
READ NOVEMBER 29

November 30

  • Isaiah 1:10-20
  • 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10
  • Luke 20:1-8
READ NOV 30

December 1

  • Isaiah 1:21-31
  • 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12
  • Luke 20:9-18
READ DEC 1

December 2

  • Isaiah 2:1-11
  • 1 Thessalonians 2:13-20
  • Luke 20:19-26
READ DEC 2

December 3

  • Isaiah 2:12-22
  • 1 Thessalonians 3:1-13
  • Luke 20:27-40
READ DEC 3

December 4

  • Isaiah 3:8-15
  • 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12
  • Luke 20:41-21:4
READ DEC 4

December 5

  • Isaiah 4:2-6
  • 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
  • Luke 21:5-19
READ DEC 5

Morning Prayer

The night has passed, and the day lies open before us;

let us pray with one heart and mind.

 

Silence is held

 

As we rejoice in the gift of this new day,

so may the light of your presence, O God,

set our hearts on fire with love for you;

now and forever.

Amen.

 

Scriptures are read and meditated upon

 

Blessed are you, God of all,

to you be praise and glory forever.

In your tender compassion

the dawn from on high is breaking upon us

to dispel the lingering shadows of night.

As we look for your coming among us this day,

open our eyes to behold your presence

and strengthen our hands to do your will,

that the world may rejoice and give you praise.

Blessed be God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Blessed be God forever.

 

Intercessions are offered for:

  • The Church, that she may be ready for the coming of Christ
  • The leaders of the Church
  • The nations, that they may be subject to the rule of God
  • Those who are working for justice and peace in the world
  • The broken, that they may find God’s healing

 

The Lord’s Prayer is said

  

May the Lord, when he comes,

find us watching and waiting.

Amen.

Let us bless the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

Evening Prayer

That this evening may be holy, good, and peaceful

let us pray with one heart and mind.

 

Silence is held

 

As our prayer rises before you, O God,

so may your mercy come down upon us

to cleanse our hearts

and set us free to sing your praise

now and forever.

Amen.

 

Scriptures are read and meditated upon

 

My soul is waiting for you, O Lord:

in your word is my hope.

My soul is waiting for you, O Lord:

you are my hope.

There is forgiveness with you,

so that you shall be honored.

In your word is my hope.

Glory to the Father and to the Son

and to the Holy Spirit.

 

Intercessions are offered for:

  • For peace
  • For individuals and their needs

 

In peace we will lie down and sleep;

for you alone, Lord, make us dwell in safety.

Abide in us, Lord Jesus,

for the night is at hand and the day is now past.

As the night looks for the morning,

so do we look for you, O Christ.

 

Restore us again, O God of heaven and earth;

show us the light of your countenance

and we shall be saved.

Bless and keep us, this night and always.

Amen.

Week Two: Peace

O come, O Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny;
From the depths of hell Thy people save,
And give them victory o’er the grave.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel,
Shall come to you, O Israel!

December 6

  • Isaiah 5:1-7
  • 2 Peter 3:11-18
  • Luke 7:28-35
READ DEC 6

December 7

  • Isaiah 5:8-12, 18-23
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
  • Luke 21:20-28
READ DEC 7

December 8

  • Isaiah 13-17, 24-25
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:12-28
  • Luke 21:29-38
READ DEC 8

December 9

  • Isaiah 6:1-13
  • 2 Thessalonians 1:1-12
  • John 7:53-8:11
READ DEC 9

December 10

  • Isaiah 7:1-9
  • 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12
  • Luke 22:1-13
READ DEC 10

December 11

  • Isaiah 7:10-25
  • 2 Thessalonians 2:13-3:5
  • Luke 22:14-30
READ DEC 11

December 12

  • Isaiah 8:1-15
  • 2 Thessalonians 3:6-18
  • Luke 22:31-38
READ DEC 12

Morning Prayer

O Lord, open our lips

and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.

 

Reveal among us the light of your presence

That we may behold your power and glory.

 

Silence is held

 

Now it is time to awake out of sleep,

for the night is far spent and the day is at hand.

Now is our salvation nearer than when we first believed,

for the night is far spent.

Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness

and put on the armor of light,

for the day is at hand.

Put on the Lord Christ

and make no provision for the flesh,

for the night is far spent and the day is at hand.

  

Scriptures are read and meditated upon

 

Savior, light everlasting,

by your first advent justify us,

by your second, set us free:

that when the great light dawns

and you come as judge of all,

we may be robed in eternal majesty

and ready, Lord, to follow

in your blessed footsteps, wherever they may lead.

 

Glory to the Father and to the Son

and to the Holy Spirit;

as it was in the beginning, is now,

and shall be forever. Amen.

 

Intercessions are offered for:

  • The day and its tasks
  • The world and its needs
  • The Church and her life

The Lord’s Prayer is said

Evening Prayer

O God, make speed to save us.

O Lord, make haste to help us.

 

Most merciful God,

we confess to you before heaven and your people,

that we have sinned in thought, word, and deed

and in what we have failed to do.

Forgive us our sins,

heal us by your Spirit

and raise us to new life in Christ.

Amen.

 

Silence is held

 

Keep me as the apple of your eye.

Hide me under the shadow of your wings.

  

Scriptures are read and meditated upon

 

Now, Lord, you let your servant go in peace:

your word has been fulfilled.

My own eyes have seen the salvation

which you have prepared in the sight of every people;

a light to reveal you to the nations

and the glory of your people Israel.

 

Come, O Lord, and visit us in peace;

that we may rejoice before you with a perfect heart.

  

Intercessions are offered

 

Stir up your power, O God,

and come among us.

Heal our wounds,

calm our fears,

and give us peace;

through Jesus our Redeemer.

Amen.

Week Three: Joy

O come, thou Dayspring, from on high,
And cheer us by Thy drawing nigh;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel,
Shall come to you, O Israel!

December 13

  • Isaiah 13:6-13
  • Hebrews 12:18-29
  • John 3:22-30
READ DEC 13

December 14

  • Isaiah 8:16-9:1
  • 2 Peter 1:1-11
  • Luke 22:39-53
READ DEC 14

December 15

  • Isaiah 9:8-17
  • 2 Peter 1:12-21
  • Luke 22:54-69
READ DEC 15

December 16

  • Isaiah 9:8-17
  • 2 Peter 2:1-10a
  • Mark 1:1-8
READ DEC 16

December 17

  • Isaiah 9:18-10:4
  • 2 Peter 2:10b-16
  • Matthew 3:1-12
READ DEC 17

December 18

  • Isaiah 10:5-19
  • 2 Peter 2:17-22
  • Matthew 11:2-15
READ DEC 18

December 19

  • Isaiah 20-27
  • Jude 17-25
  • Luke 3:1-9
READ DEC 19

Morning Prayer

O God, make speed to save us.

O Lord, make haste to help us.

 

Your words have I hidden within my heart,

that I should not sin against you.

 

Silence is held

 

Like the sun in the morning sky,

the Savior of the world will dawn;

like rain upon the meadows,

the Christ will come down upon us.

Amen.

 

Scriptures are read and meditated upon

 

Keep us, O Lord,

while we tarry on this earth,

in a serious seeking after you,

and in an affectionate walking with you,

every day of our lives;

that when you come

we may be found not hiding,

nor serving the ourselves,

nor yet asleep with our lamp dim,

but waiting and longing for our Lord,

our glorious God forever.

Amen.

 

Intercessions are offered for:

  • Those who seek justice and mercy
  • The leaders of every nation
  • Our Bloom family
  • The brokenhearted and the sick

 

The Lord’s Prayer is said

 

May the Lord make us ready for his coming in glory.

Amen.

Evening Prayer

The Lord almighty grant us a quiet night and a perfect end to this day.

Amen.

 

Our help is in the name of the Lord

who made heaven and earth.

 

Silence is held

 

Almighty God,

give us grace to cast away the works of darkness

and to put on the armor of light,

now in the time of this earthly life,

in which your Son Jesus Christ came to us in great humility;

that on the last day,

when he shall come again in his glorious majesty

to judge the living and the dead,

we may rise to eternal life;

through him who is alive and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.

Amen.

 

Scriptures are read and meditated upon

 

Lord Jesus, you are the one who is to come,

the one whom we await with longing hearts.

Come, Lord Jesus!

  

Thanksgivings from the day are offered

 

Intercessions are offered

 

Before the ending of the day,

Creator of the world, we pray

that you, with steadfast love, would keep

your watch around us as we sleep.

Amen.

Week Four: Love

O come, thou Key of David, come
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel,
Shall come to you, O Israel!

December 20

  • Isaiah 42:1-12
  • Ephesians 6:10-20
  • John 3:16-21
READ DEC 20

December 21

  • Isaiah 11:1-9
  • Revelation 20:1-10
  • John 5:30-47
READ DEC 21

December 22

  • Isaiah 11:10-16
  • Revelation 20:11-21:8
  • Luke 1:5-25
READ DEC 24

December 23

  • Isaiah 28:9-22
  • Revelation 21:9-21
  • Luke 1:26-38
READ DEC 25

Morning Prayer

Come with the dawning of the day

and make yourself known to us. 

Silence is held

 

Scriptures are read and meditated upon

 

Blessed be the Lord the God of Israel,

who has come to his people and set them free.

 

He has raised up for us a mighty Savior,

born of the house of David.

 

Through his holy prophets God promised of old

to save us from our enemies,

from the hands of all that hate us,

 

to show mercy to our ancestors,

and to remember his holy covenant.

 

This was the oath God swore to our father Abraham:

to set us free from the hands of our enemies,

 

free to worship him without fear,

holy and righteous in his sight

all the days of our life.

 

And you, child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High,

for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way,

 

to give his people knowledge of salvation

by the forgiveness of all their sins.

 

In the tender compassion of our God

the dawn from on high shall break upon us,

 

to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death,

and to guide our feet into the way of peace.

 

Intercessions are offered for:

  • The Church, for her unity and witness
  • The poor
  • Refugees
  • All who are lonely and hurting

 

The Lord’s Prayer is said

  

May the Lord strengthen, ready, and prepare us for the day ahead.

Amen.

 

May the Lord make us ready for his coming in glory.

Amen.

Evening Prayer

Visit this place, O Lord, we pray,

and drive far from it the snares of the enemy;

may your holy angels dwell with us and guard us in peace,

and may your blessing be always upon us;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen.

 

Silence is held

 

Scriptures are read and meditated upon

 

Blessed are you, Sovereign God,

creator of light and darkness, to you be glory and praise forever.

As evening falls, you renew your promise

to reveal among us the light of your presence.

May your word be a lantern to our feet

and a light upon our path

that we may behold your coming among us.

Strengthen us in our stumbling weakness

and free our tongues to sing your praise.

Blessed be God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Blessed be God forever.

  

Thanksgivings from the day are offered

 

Intercessions are offered

 

In peace we will lie down and sleep;

for you alone, Lord, make us dwell in safety.

Abide in us, Lord Jesus,

for the night is at hand and the day is now past.

As the night looks for the morning,

so do we look for you, O Christ.

 

Restore us again, O God of heaven and earth;

show us the light of your countenance

and we shall be saved.

Bless and keep us, this night and always.

Amen.

Christmas Eve

December 24

  • Isaiah 35:1-10
  • Revelation 22:12-17, 21
  • Luke 1:67-80
READ DEC 24

Christmas Eve

  • Isaiah 59:15b-21
  • Philippians 2:5-11
READ CHRISTMAS EVE

Prayer for Christmas Eve Day

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given!

His name shall be called the Prince of Peace!

 

Silence is held

  

Scriptures are read and meditated upon

 

Father, on this holy night your Son, our Savior,

was born in human flesh.

Renew your Church as the Body of Christ.

Holy God

hear our prayer.

 

On this holy night there was no room for your Son in the inn.

Protect with your love those who have no home

and all who live in poverty.

Holy God

hear our prayer.

 

On this holy night Mary, in the pain of labor,

brought your Son to birth.

Hold in your hand all who are in pain or distress.

Holy God

hear our prayer.

 

On this holy night your Christ came

as a light shining in the darkness.

Bring comfort to all who suffer

in the sadness of our world.

Holy God

hear our prayer.

 

On this holy night the angels sang,

‘Peace to God’s people on earth.’

Strengthen those who work for peace and justice

in all the world.

Holy God

hear our prayer.

 

On this holy night shepherds in the field heard good tidings of joy.

Give us grace to preach the gospel of Christ’s redemption.

Holy God

hear our prayer.

 

On this holy night strangers found the Holy Family,

and saw the baby lying in the manger.

Bless our homes and all whom we love.

Holy God

hear our prayer.

 

On this holy night heaven comes down to earth,

and earth is raised to heaven.

Hold in your hand all for whom death is near

and give them the hope of your love and your coming kingdom.

Holy God

hear our prayer.

 

On this holy night Christians the world over celebrate Christ’s birth.

Open our hearts that he may be born in us today.

Holy God

hear our prayer.

 

Intercessions are offered for our world, our families, and Bloom