During the Advent season leading up to Christmas, Incarnation families are gathering outside the church—or at home, or in another cozy spot—for a casual time of prayer and Advent wonder! If you're able, join us at 9:30am.
Saint Nicholas icon, courtesy of the Hamlin family
We’re looking forward to Sunday morning when our Bishop John Guernsey will be joining us at Incarnation. Because he’s an excellent sport, and because Saint Nicholas Day falls on December 6, Bishop John will join us for Advent Wonder in his full Bishop regalia to tell stories about Bishop Nicholas of Myra—A.K.A. Saint Nick!
In case you’re curious, we’ll be keeping things historical: we won’t spoil any St. Nick traditions, if you know what I mean, nor will we be accepting letters to Santa.
We’ll have supplies on hand to make orange and clove pomanders, as well as Mandy’s beautiful German paper stars. At home, why not try your hand at pomanders, stars, or even Leigh’s Katy Bread recipe—make enough to keep one at home and give one to a neighbor.
Emmanuel: God with us
During Advent, we prepare for one of the church’s greatest feasts: Christmas! Long before Jesus was born, prophets listened to God and shared God’s words with the people—giving them clues about what the Messiah would be like. Here’s this week’s scripture:
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son and shall name him Immanuel. Isaiah 7:14
The name Immanuel means “God with us.”
As Advent progresses, you’ll notice that we’re sharing traditions and nativity scenes from around the world (send me pics if you’d like to share yours!); Amy’s selecting Sunday art; and Beth and the music team are playing songs—all reflecting the angel’s message in Luke 2:10 “Good news for all the people.”
Why are we doing that, since Jesus was born and lived in a particular time and place? Amy sent me this really helpful post, below, about images of Jesus. (The short answer: the reason for various diverse depictions has to do with the big-ness of the Incarnation!)
"Painters of Jesus often paint him as incarnate in their own time and place to reveal the 'with-us-ness' of the gospel," writes Victoria Emily Jones.
We use a lot of art in atrium, we invite art responses from the kids; it’s a great way to internalize and engage with God’s words for us. Older kids and youth may enjoy looking at and discussing the above instagram post, and looking at the art we're sharing in our instagram stories and on our Advent page. Ask them how they think Jesus should be represented. What do you think?
With younger kids, you can talk more generally about art: of course, photography wasn’t around when Jesus lived on this earth! But many, many people have made pictures of what they imagine it was like.
In all these nativity scenes, we notice that people from all over the world are picturing how it feels for Jesus to be with them. How exciting, how wonderful, for the Messiah to be born in a small regular old place, for God to become human, for God to be with us.
Elisa's nativity scene.
Advent Family Prayer for December 6
Opening sentence & lighting the Advent wreath:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” Isaiah 40:3
Our King and Savior now draws near*:
O come, let us adore him.
Light Advent candles and sing:
Light one candle for hope.
One bright candle for hope.
Christ brings hope to every heart;
He comes, he comes.
Light one candle for peace,
One bright candle for peace.
Christ brings peace to every heart;
He comes, he comes.
A reading from the prophet Isaiah:
“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son and shall name him Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14
Reflect as you’d like. (Discuss; reflect using art; color or copy the prophecy; listen to a song.) Pay particular attention to all the names of Jesus, all the clues, in these prophecies; as well as the contrast of great and small.
Prayer. Pray together, including any of these options:
Song or canticle: options below, or your choice.
Prayers of the people: take turns by passing a cross or similar around the family circle. If anyone prefers to pray silently, take a moment, then pass to the next person!
Open prayer time—for ourselves and others, including our neighbors, and our country and ministry of the week: Cameroon and Little Lights Urban Ministries
The Lord’s Prayer
The Collect of the Day: Blessed Lord, who caused all Holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that by patience and the comfort of your holy Word we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Additional prayers for Saint Nicholas Day:
Collect for Saint Nicholas Day:
Almighty Father, lover of souls, who chose your servant Nicholas
to be a bishop in the Church,
that he might give freely out of the treasures of your grace:
make us mindful of the needs of others
and, as we have received, so teach us also to give;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Blessing of Oranges:
Loving God, you ask us to show kindness and care to everyone. Thank you for good Saint Nicholas who shows us how to give gifts and care to others, especially children. Bless these oranges that they may remind us of Saint Nicholas’ gifts to people in need. Help us to love and care for those who need help and children everywhere. Amen.