Wherever you see signs of love, God is there. Wherever kindness and fairness are extended, God is there. Wherever the sacred story becomes our story, God is there. In times together and times apart, we celebrate God with us.

The Season of Advent invites us to focus on hope, peace, joy, and love. On this third week of Advent, we live into the joy of God. We rejoice in the therapeutic nature of God and refocus on the one who is to come.

Refocus, Restore, Rejoice

Advent candle lighting

If you have not already done so, create an Advent wreath with four candles. It can be as simple as four electric tealights and a square of green felt. Or you might create a wreath following the directions on page 4 of the November 29 Children’s Activity Leaflet.

This Advent candle lighting ritual is based on an Advent wreath ceremony written by Maren Tirabassi. In this ritual, we name the things that dimmish joy and light the candles of hope, peace and joy to light the way forward.

ONEIn our homes,
we gather around wreaths
to pray for lost hopes,
broken peace, limited joys,
and love so hard to find and share.

We light the candles of hope and peace.

RESPONSE: We now light the candle of joy, in spite of missing so many of the things we thought were essential to a merry Christmas … (add situations in your context. For example, shopping, parties, funerals, photos with Santa, Christmas visits, school celebrations, chances to hug).

ONEGod’s joy ignites embers under loss and sorrow and brightens the path to love.

RESPONSE: Emmanuel, God be with us, in the week to come, lighting hope, peace, and joy on the wick of our lives so that we may shine on our world with a simple smile and unexpected laughter. Amen.
You might copy the response in large print and place near the Advent wreath were all can see.)

Psalm 126 recalls God’s powerful presence with the people in the past and in doing so raises hope for the future.

Read Psalm 126 or Listen to the audio story “A Song of Happiness” or gather around as someone tells the story “God Loves Us.”

God has done great things! What can we do to express our joy and gratitude? We rejoice with song and with laughter. This news is too good to keep to ourselves – let’s share it with everyone. Let’s shout out the good news. Our God is loving! God blesses us. Rejoice!

  • Invite each person to describe one thing that brings them joy. Think about ways joy can be expressed.
  • Choose a family activity that will bring joy to others (such as volunteer in your community, visit those who are homebound, share gifts of food, offer to help neighbours). The list of ways to spread joy is endless.Flowers of joy craftToday’s story tells that once the people were sad and their lives were hard, but they planted their seeds and prayed. The seeds grew. The people laughed and sang and shouted for joy because God is good. Think about where you need God’s comfort and healing in your life – your discouragement, frustration and longings. Write those on coffee filters or light-coloured tissue paper.Follow the directions to make flowers of joy, planted with seeds of sorrow.Materials round coffee filters or 20cm/8in circles of white or light-coloured tissue paper), pipe cleaners, markers, spray bottle set to mist.

1. Set the filters on top of each other (if using more than one), fold in half and then in half again. Fold that “quarter” section into zig-zagged

thirds (fanfold) and wrap a pipe cleaner around the middle. Fluff out the folds of the flower, hang it upside and spray/mist it with

the spray bottle.

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2. Once dried, display your flowers as apage2image19008page2image19176page2image19344

Print this week’s children’s activity leaflet, which includes the story “God Loves Us,” an activity, and an action song.

During the week

Each day, take time to sit in the quiet and listen to “A Harvest of Joy” by Jason Silver. As you listen reflect on an experience that caused you to rejoice.
At the end of the week, light a candle and thank God for the experience.

Visit Lection ConnectionDecember 13, for current events that connect with this week’s scriptures.

Prayer for each day

Joyful God, we lift our voices in praise! You have done wonderful things – thank you! Send us into the world in faith and with joy to share your wonderful love. Amen