The four Sundays of Advent
November 16, 2016 / By UNY Communications
The season of Advent is celebrated over four Sundays in The United Methodist Church – this year, those Sundays are Nov. 27 and Dec. 4, 11, and 18. The season begins four Sundays before Christmas, ending at sundown on Christmas Eve. The end of Advent marks the beginning of the liturgical or church year for Christians.
During Advent, United Methodists prepare for and anticipate the coming of Christ.
“We remember the longing of Jews for a Messiah and our own longing for, and need of, forgiveness, salvation and a new beginning,” according to UMC.org. “Even as we look back and celebrate the birth of Jesus in a humble stable in Bethlehem, we also look forward anticipating the second coming of Christ as the fulfillment of all that was promised by his first coming.”
To prepare for the coming of Christ, each Sunday of Advent has a distinctive theme. In addition to these themes, Discipleship Ministries has crafted a new approach to worship planning, and its Advent 2016 Worship Series has its own themes for each Sunday of Advent.
The United Methodist Book of Worship calls for the theme of the final return of Christ in victory and the Second Coming for the first Sunday of Advent. Discipleship Ministries marks the first Sunday of Advent with the theme “Watch,” as Advent begins with the call of Jesus to his disciples to stay on watch for the fulfillment of all things.
Second and third Sundays
The Book of Worship calls for the second and third Sundays of Advent focus on John the Baptist’s role, words, and teachings. Discipleship Ministries’ theme for the second Sunday is “Turn.” As United Methodists become aware of the universe that Christ will bring about, they are invited to repent, to turn from their attachments to the powers of death and destruction of this age and live out the Spirit-led mission of the coming reign of God. Under the new series, the third Sunday’s theme is “See” because once United Methodists have turned toward the fulfillment God intends, they can begin to see the world and treat others in a new way.
The Book of Worship’s theme for the fourth Sunday of Advent involves the events immediately preceding Jesus’ birth. Discipleship Ministries’ names the fourth Sunday’s theme “Dream.” As United Methodists begin to see God’s way of compassion and mercy, they also come to acknowledge their reliance on God communicating with them and transforming them, not only in their conscious lives, but also in their sleeping, unconscious lives.