Mennonite Church USA’s 2021 Advent at Home devotional, “Dare to Imagine,” was written by Talashia Keim Yoder, pastor of Christian Formation at College Mennonite Church in Goshen, Indiana.
We invite you to wait for Jesus as we share weekly reflections and activities for all ages. Download the full Advent At Home worship guide.
Week six: God’s dance!
Week of January 2
Focus Scripture: John 1:1-18
Additional Lectionary Scriptures: Jeremiah 31:7-14; Psalm 147:12-20; Ephesians 1:3-14
Weekly worship ritual
Connect to the “big story”
God created a good world. We were created to live peacefully, but we often miss the mark. When that happens, we have to deal with the consequences, but God sticks with us. Our whole story is a story of God sticking with us. In the Bible, God called Abraham and Sarah’s family to be a blessing to the earth, and even when they missed the mark, God stuck with them. When the people were in slavery and cried out to God, God stuck with them by sending Moses to lead them. When the people of God had a hard time understanding how to live God’s law of love in community, God sent leaders like Joshua, judges like Deborah, and prophets like Samuel to bring the people back to God.
The people wanted to be ruled by kings. Things didn’t always go well under kings, and the kingdom divided in two. Both of these kingdoms were eventually invaded by other nations. Some people were taken away into exile, and some were left in the ruins of the land. God continued to stick with the people, often through calling prophets, who pointed the people back to God and back to a community of shalom. Eventually, the exiled people were allowed to return home. They began to hope for a Messiah.
That Messiah was announced to a young Galilean woman named Mary, when an angel told her she was to bear the Christ. She courageously responded with, “Let it be,” and it was so. Jesus was born, proclaimed by angels and visited by shepherds. God incarnate, a tiny baby.
In the Gospel of John, instead of telling the story of Jesus’ birth, the author uses poetic language to introduce the life of Jesus on earth. The author reminds us that Jesus (“the Word”) has always been with God and of God and ties Jesus with creation. Jesus, called the “Light of the World,” ties all of the past, present and future together in a celebration. In this Scripture, we are invited to dare to imagine God’s dance.
Tell the story: John 1:1-18
Talk about it: Choose a few of these prompts to explore:
- In this dark season of the year, when the days are at their shortest, we can really understand the difference that light makes. Play with light a bit (hint: do this when it’s dark outside for maximum effect!). Use different types and amounts of light. Play with shadows. Have some fun. Maybe even have a (battery-operated) candlelight dance party. Jesus as Light of the World isn’t just about flooding the world with light, but is also about revealing what is hidden and illuminating the shadow places.
- The writer of John wrote this “prologue” to the Gospel. A prologue is something we read before the main story. Usually, it helps the main story make more sense or helps us read it differently. This prologue introduces the story of Jesus’ life on earth. It has lovely poetic language, but it sure is confusing! It’s okay if it’s hard for you to understand what this Scripture means. People of every age struggle with understanding it. Like all poetry, it’s meant to help us feel things, ask questions and see things differently. It’s not meant to explain everything but it points us in a direction.
- “In the beginning was the Word…” Does that phrase remind you of anything? This Scripture mirrors and quotes a lot of other Scriptures, and Genesis 1 is one of those Scriptures. Read Genesis 1:1-5 and John 1:1-5 and notice the similarities and differences.
- This Scripture describes Jesus as “the Word,” or in Greek, “Logos.” Logos means way more than “word” as we think of it. Here, it’s being used to describe divine (of God) wisdom and order. It’s a word that makes things happen, that can create.
- Verse 10 says, “yet the world did not know him.” Jesus is the source of everything, even our lives, yet we don’t recognize him.
- Read verse 18. It’s in Jesus that we know God. Through Jesus, we begin to understand God.
Imagination Station: How did this story prompt you to imagine and create?
Daily worship ritual
- Light two purple candles, then the pink candle, the last purple candle, and the center candle, then say something like, “Jesus brings God’s hopeful goodness! Jesus brings God’s peaceful embrace! Jesus brings God’s joyful song! Jesus is God’s loving face! Jesus is God incarnate!” If you want to keep it simpler, say, “Jesus is born! Jesus brings hope. Jesus brings peace. Jesus brings joy. Jesus brings love.”
- Read part or all of Luke 2:1-20; or read one of the other lectionary Scriptures.
- “Imagine the Journey:” Begin moving the Magi closer to the Nativity scene.
- Prayer: God, you are hope, peace, joy and love. In Jesus, you revealed all these things to us in all their fullness. Make us bold enough to join your dance. Amen.
- Blow out the candles.
- Sing a song of light.
Visit MC USA’s Faith Formation page to find a one-stop hub of formation resources for all ages, curated through an Anabaptist lens.