Advent Virtual Small Group Study - Wk 1
The Work of the People INTERRUPTED BY HOPE: Turning Towards Advent
We have our plans, our time, and ideas about how this holiday season should work. However, Advent changes all of that. The arrival of this season shifts our focus and gives us a greater expectation than day-in-day-out living. Advent interrupts our schedule and points us toward a new hope. It brings the blessing of an unplanned arrival. God seeks to stir within us so we may turn our faces toward something new. This is why Advent is the “new year” in the calendar of the church. The year is made new by Christ’s coming. This expectation has two senses: it is the waiting for Christ’s return and it is the waiting for the Christ child to be born. In the first sense, Advent is a time for preparing for Christ’s arrival. It is getting our priorities in order so that we can properly greet the Prince of Peace. The second sense is not only the remembrance of the stories in the Gospels, but it is the realization that God is birthing something new in us. The purpose of Advent is to make us pregnant with hope. For many, the holiday season is not filled with joy, family, and gifts, but anxiety, stress, and despair. Advent seeks to reframe our experiences with new expectations, expectations that will not disappoint. It is the expectancy that new life will start to grow within all of us. However, we must be willing to make room for an interruption. Can we make that space to receive this gift? These films, poems, and prayers are provided to help bring our attention to the season, to a sacred, different time. Each can be used for communal or individual worship. May God use this time as a fresh breath, a new life within you and among you. May the stirrings of this season take root within you, extend and serve the world through you. Phuc Luu
Interrupted By Hope ADVENT AS REORIENTATION (Brian Zahnd “Learning How to Hope” video)
How do we mark our time? Is it by our schedules and watches or is there something that interrupts our calendars? Brian Zahnd talks about re-orienting our lives through the life of Jesus. This is first done through the church’s calendar that starts with Advent (in which the date changes every year), and it moves into our lives to change the rhythm and flow of our lives.
Questions for Reflection
1. The interview starts by asking, “How do you see Advent?” Zahnd comments, “I love the Christian calendar because it speaks to the reality of the Empire of Christ. That there is even another way of telling time.”
How does Advent break into our usual thinking about time?
How does it speak of the reality of Christ’s rule in our lives?
2. Zahnd comments on how “[The story of Christ] starts with this anticipation. It does not start with December 25; it starts with the first Sunday in Advent.”
How can we join the prophets and others in the biblical stories in anticipating Christ’s arrival?
3. Zahnd observes that Christmas then becomes a twelve-day feast because “God has broken into history. The Word is become flesh. God is now with us.”
How does this “breaking into history” become a source of hope for us?
How is this a good disruption to our lives?
4. Zahnd says, “Advent is about learning how to hope and to orient our lives in the direction of hope.”
How can we better move towards hope with “patience”?
In what ways do we live our lives that bring us more anxiety rather than hope?
5. When asked, “Do you think we need patience in our time?” Zahnd responds by saying, “Patience is the heart of wisdom” and that “One of the primary characteristics [of wise people] is their patience.”
How is wisdom rooted in patience?
How can we learn to cultivate more patience during this season of this season of Advent?