Week three comes from Mennonite Church USA’s (MC USA) 2020 Advent at Home devotional, “We Wait for Jesus,” which focuses on the Advent themes of hope, peace, joy and love. It 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.
This week’s story: Mary’s Story
Advent Daily Ritual
- Light two purple candles and the pink candle saying, “We wait for Jesus who will bring hope, peace and joy.”
- Weekly scripture reading: Luke 1:26-56.
- Daily scripture readings: Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11; Psalm 126; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24; or John 1:6-8, 19-28. Or maybe read all or part of Luke 1:26-56 each day.
- Do your Expecting Ritual.
- Pray: God, in the quest for happiness, we sometimes forget the deeper joy that comes only from you. Teach us the satisfaction that comes from having enough.
Help our souls to be filled with joy like Mary’s. God of joy, live in us today. Amen.
- Sing a song of joy.
- Blow out the candles.
Weekly Worship Ritual
Tell the story
If you have Shine On: A Story Bible, this passage is referred to on page 161.
Put it in context
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 a family to be a blessing to the earth, and even when Abraham and Sarah and their descendants missed the mark, God stuck with them. When their Egyptian rulers missed the mark and made them slaves, they cried out to God, and God stuck with them by sending Moses to lead
The people of God had a hard time understanding how to live God’s law of love in community, so God sent leaders like Joshua, judges like Deborah, and prophets like Samuel
to bring the people back to God. Eventually, the people missed the mark so much that their land was taken over by invading armies. Many of the people were captured and put into exile, and others were left in the ruins of what had been their home.
Prophets like Isaiah brought hope to the people in exile. Eventually, the people returned from exile and rebuilt Jerusalem. We call this the “second temple period.” The people longed for a Messiah, and at the beginning of the New Testament, we learn that the Messiah is on his way. Jesus, the Messiah, adopted into a line of both royalty and messes, came to show the way of peace.
In this week’s story, we are introduced to Mary, the mother of Jesus. An angel appeared to her and told her she would have a child, and not just any child, but the child, the Son of God. We can imagine how strange this would have been for her! She accepts what is asked of her, then hurries to visit her cousin, Elizabeth. When these two women greet each other, they erupt in joy.
This week’s word is joy. Joy is something that comes from God, not from fleeting external things. Mary’s song, which proclaims who God is, is a great example of this deep joy.
Talk about it
Choose the prompts that are appropriate for your household.
- This story invites us to imagine and empathize. If you choose to do that, try it multiple times with different personalities for Mary. She’s often portrayed as passive, but notice what happens if you imagine her as assertive and direct with the angel.
- If you have heard this story a lot, the wonder of it may have worn off. Read it with fresh eyes. It’s full of mystery, of the supernatural — an angel, a virgin conception, overshadowing by the Holy Spirit, an unborn child leaping for joy.
- Mary’s song is political. Read it and really notice what it’s proclaiming. It is also similar to Hannah’s prayer (see 1 Samuel 2) and songs sung by women like Miriam (Exodus 15: 21) and Deborah (Judges 5).
- This passage is full of allusions to Old Testament scripture. Here are just a few:
- “The Lord is with you” (v 28) is a conventional greeting. Find it elsewhere: Judges 6:12; 2 Samuel 7:3; 2 Chronicles 15:2.
- All of verses 32-33 mirrors 2 Samuel 7:13-16, the promise made to David.
- “Son of God” sometimes refers to humans like Adam, but also refers to divinities, as in Psalm 29:1.
- “Nothing will be impossible with God” (v 37). This phrase appears several other times, including in Genesis 18:14 about Sarah becoming pregnant in old age.
Tell it your way
Add to your “Journey to Bethlehem” mural.
This weekly project can deepen your growth toward Christmas. Choose a place for your mural. It can be wherever you have space in a common area, or maybe you want it to lead toward a manger scene or another symbol of Christmas. Each week, draw a scene or make a collage inspired by the week’s story and add it to your mural.
Visit MC USA’s Faith Formation page to find a one-stop hub of formation resources for all ages, curated through an Anabaptist lens.