Every year Advent invites us to prepare our hearts once more for the gift—the gift that seemingly is too good to be true but is, in fact, miraculously and joyously true! And each year, we have the opportunity to say yes to that invitation, to prepare our hearts for the miracle of Immanuel, “God with us.”

 

The word advent comes from the Latin word adventus and simply means “coming” or “arrival.” Advent begins each year on the fourth Sunday before Christmas, which is the Sunday closest to November 30. It is a season in which Christians around the world celebrate the First Advent, Jesus’ birth, and also anticipate the Second Advent, Christ’s return. Although the themes of Advent sometimes vary, those most commonly observed during the four weeks of Advent are hope, peace, joy, and love.

 

This guide has five devotions—one for each of the four weeks of Advent and one for Christmas Eve/ Christmas Day.

 

Each devotion includes the following:

Scripture. Passages traditionally read during Advent are taken from both the Old and New Testaments, and include selections from the Psalms, the Prophets, the Epistles, and the Gospels.

Questions for Reflection. Drawing on the themes of Scripture and related passages from Because of Bethlehem, the questions are designed to help you explore the intersection between your life and the Advent theme for each week.

Advent Prayer. You can tuck these brief and simple prayers into your pocket and take them with you wherever you go. Pray them often to bring the promise of each week’s theme into every circumstance you encounter.

Advent Practice. Practices provide a way to explore and to respond to what you learn. Each week includes options to help deepen your experience of that week’s theme.

 

As you reflect on the miracle of Christ’s birth and the promise of his return, may you experience the true meaning of Christmas: Immanuel, God with us—God with you.

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