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 fourth week of Advent,
Mary’s song of resistance and revolution challenges us to reflect God’s love by highlighting the creative power of God.

December 20 – Reflect, Resist, Re-imagine

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, peace, and joy.

RESPONSE: We now light the candle of love, even when many things dim our sparking (add situations in your context).

ONEGod’s love illuminates hatred and a compassionate heart and brightens the path to the birth of Christ.

RESPONSE: Emmanuel, God with us, light hope, peace, joy, and love on the wick of our lives, so that we may shine on our world your unconditional welcome to all. Amen.
You might copy the response in large print and place near the Advent wreath were all can see.)

Luke 1:26–38 and Luke 1:46b–55 An angel brings news to Mary that she will bear a son. Mary reflects on how God’s activity resists the ways of the world and re-imagines who God values.

Read Luke 1:26–38 and Luke 1:46b–55 Listen to the audio story “Mary Learns about Her Baby” orgather around as someone tells the story “Welcome, Baby Jesus.

Mary says “yes” to God’s purpose and vision and becomes an agent of God’s liberating love; she proclaims her devotion to God and the “great reversal” to come. This is a story to inspire, to help us re-imagine, fill us with gratitude and joy, and sing of God’s steadfast love and faithfulness.

• What are some ways we can reflect God’s saving love?

Mirror messages
Dry-erase markers, and bathroom mirror, or one that is used by most house-hold members. Write on the mirror “You are beloved.”

Sometimes it is hard to imagine that God comes to be with us. We may think that perhaps we are not worthy of God’s love or God’s presence. But each of us is indeed loved by God. We are loved more than we can imagine by a God who sees God’s self in us. We are loved by a God who came to Earth to be with us.

1. Look in the mirror. What do you see?
2. See yourself as God sees you – loved, unique, special?
3. What would you tell this person you see in the mirror?
4. Write that word or phrase on the mirror with a dry-erase marker – an affirmation for others who will look in this mirror.

Print this week’s children’s activity leaflet, which includes the story “Welcome, Baby Jesus,” an activity, and instructions to make a megaphone to tell everyone about Jesus’ birth.

Christmas will be different this year.
Watch Out of the Box Christmas” and follow the adventures of Christmas decorations stuck in the garage, with a nearly impossible plan to make sure the Christmas message is celebrated. Be sure to watch to the very end!

During the week

With the angel’s announcement to Mary, we catch a vision of how completely lives can be changed. Sometimes, life is changed in a moment. At such times it is good to have people around who can help us stay grounded.

• Phone someone who has been by your side in a time of change.

Visit Lection ConnectionDecember 20, for current events that connect with this week’s scriptures.

Prayer for each day

Surprising God,
our hearts are open to receive you.
May gratitude and joy be born in us to serve you in impossible ways.
Grant us grace and courage to become all that you mean for us to be. Amen.