Advent & Christmas 2014

Housegroup Resources

Understanding Advent:

Although Advent falls at the end of the calendar year it is for most Western churches the start of the Church year. 

The word ‘Advent’ quite obviously means denotes ‘coming’ or ‘arriving’ and the focus for the season of Advent is on the birth of Christ (first advent) and the return of Christ (second advent).  With this in mind, Advent is far more than simply looking back 2000 years and celebrating an event in history.  Instead Advent is about remembering and celebrating a great truth about God – that he is the God who reveals himself to mankind, and who comes to his creation to restore, reconcile and save it. 

Caught as we are in time between the first and second advent, having received the revelation of God in Christ, we respond by joining with him in his work of redemption and reconciliation, looking back in thanks and looking forward in hope. 

Advent is a time to remind ourselves that as we play a part in Gods purposes in creation, we see glimpses of his kingdom and salvation in the here and now, whilst all the while looking forward to the full consummation of his plans and purposes.  We celebrate Gods breaking in to history in the incarnation, we anticipate a future consummation and we remember our own responsibility as a people called by God to collaborate with him in bringing his kingdom rule and reign to bear.

Thinking about our attitude towards Advent, we take on a spirit of expectation and anticipation as well as a spirit of preparation and longing.  It is a season to think about the longing for the Kingdom of God to be fully manifest in a world marked by the corruption of sin and evil.  Our cry and heartfelt prayer is that just as first century Galilean peasants saw Christ break into human history, so too God may bring us to that day where he once again radically arrives on the scene to bring peace, justice, righteousness, salvation and judgment.  That last word may seem out of place, but we must remember that the second coming of Christ brings with it the terrible judgment of God, which none will escape, not even his church!

Advent is traditionally a season of prayer, in the same way that Lent is a season of fasting and penitence, and so this Advent we are calling the church to prayer, individually and corporately.


Housegroup notes:

For Advent we’re not preparing notes for housegroups and so please choose what you will study and do. 

Some suggestions:

1 – Pick up the sermon theme from the previous Sunday to talk and pray through
2 – Use an Advent devotional booklet or study guide such as:
                Advent Readings from Iona (£8.99)
                Walking through Advent (£7.99)
                Why wish you a merry Christmas? Rt Revd Nick Baines. (£6.99)
                Do Nothing…Christmas is coming.  Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell. (£4.99)
3 – Do something practical as a group such as:
                Host a meal each week for your neighbours
                Serve with a local charity such as PitStop Leatherhead or LeatherHEAD Start
                Volunteer to help staff our Christmas mulled wine stand at Ashtead Station     (email to sign up)


The teaching themes for Advent & Christmas are as follows:


The King has come
Nov 30th – 1st Sunday of Advent
Mark 13:24-37, 1Cor1:3-9
Be prepared
This week we set the scene for our advent preaching.  A chance to explain what advent is about.  We pick up the themes of expectation and anticipation around the first advent of Christ and look forward to his second advent.  We also develop the theme of being prepared for his second coming, as the day of judgment and the end of the reconciling of the world to God in Christ and the full revelation of his kingdom in the new creation. 
Dec 7th – 2nd Sunday of Advent
Mark 1:1-8, 2Peter3:8-15
Living in the Gap
This week we look at the reality of living in-between times, caught between Christ’s first and second coming, with signs of his kingdom and the reality of a broken and corrupted world all around us.  We pick out two gifts of God in Christ that help and sustain us as we live in this time, the cleansing and empowering of baptism and the Spirit.
Dec 14th – 3rd Sunday of Advent
John1:1-28, 1Thess5:16-24
The Light that shines
In a season of expectation and anticipation we often talk about Christ as the light of the world – shedding his glorious light on a broken creation and bringing hope.  As a season of preparation, advent is also a time to reflect carefully on what the light of Christ shining into our hearts, minds, and lives will expose, how prepared are we?  What lurks in the hidden corners?  There is no escaping the penetrating light of Christ…
Dec 21st – 4th Sunday of Advent
Luke1:26-38, Rom 16:25-27
Fear, favour, and faith
This week we examine Mary’s response to Gods revelation through his angelic messenger.  As we do so we’ll prayerfully engage with our own response to Gods revelation in Christ to us.  We pick up the three themes of fear, favour, and faith as we, like Mary, struggle to make sense of Gods revelation of himself and his calling to us to collaborate with him in the salvation and work of his kingdom which is here and is to come. 
Dec 24th – Christmas Eve
Luke 1:67-79, Acts 13:16-26
The job description from heaven
Even before the Christ was born, his job description had been written, his calling was known.  He was to be the one to:  redeem his people, bring salvation, write a new covenant with Gods people, lead his people to holiness and win for his people righteousness.  Well, there’s nothing like starting young is there.  This week we look at these aspects of Christ’s calling in relation to our own lives of faith, with eyes on the past, present, and future
Dec 25th - Christmas Day
Luke 2:1-14, Titus 2:11-14
At last, some stable-ility
The narrative surrounding Jesus birth is written through with turmoil and change, unpredictability caused by the whims of the powerful, and yet in the midst of this, as the Christ is born the heavenly host sing ‘…peace among men…’.  At the start of the new age, despite the turmoil of the world, it is possible to know stability and rootedness, safety and peace, because the King has come, and with him a new way of life unfolds. 
Dec 28th – First Sunday of Christmas
Luke 2:15-21, Gal4:4-7
Heirs of the promise
In this final sermon in the series we once again look ahead to the second coming of Christ and explore the theme of being heirs with Christ, promised a share in the inheritance which is given from Father to Son.  We’ll also wrap the series up and draw together the main themes of series so far.  

Simon Butler, 21/10/2014