Meadowbrook Advent 2017

What is the Advent Season?

The four Sundays leading up to Christmas are what we call the Season of Advent. It is a time set apart in the Church calendar where we are encouraged to focus on the amazing gift of Jesus’ birth and the fact that we are promised that He will come back again.  The term “advent” is a Latin word that simply means “coming.”

Here at Meadowbrook, we participate in Advent because we want to experience Emmanuel (or “God with us”) during a season when it’s easy to become busy and overwhelmed and lose sight of what’s truly important. By reading the weekly Advent Reflection and participating in a suggested activity together, we hope you and your family find joy and peace in the familiar Christmas story that is in danger of getting lost in your busyness.

These short Advent Reflections will also give you and your family a chance to talk about the gifts Jesus brought to us through His birth as a baby over 2000 years ago. God’s pure love for us is revealed in the timeless and powerful story of Christmas.

We will be reflecting on the gifts of love, hope, joy and peace that Jesus brings us throughout the year, but especially during the Christmas season.  Our prayer is that you experience the gifts of Jesus more richly this holiday season.


Reading (Isaiah 9:2-7 the MESSAGE)

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.
For those who lived in a land of deep shadows—light! sunbursts of light!
You repopulated the nation, you expanded its joy. Oh, they’re so glad in your presence! Festival joy!
The joy of a great celebration, sharing rich gifts and warm greetings.
The abuse of oppressors and cruelty of tyrants—all their whips and cudgels and curses—
Is gone, done away with, a deliverance as surprising and sudden as Gideon’s old victory over Midian.
The boots of all those invading troops, along with their shirts soaked with innocent blood, will be piled in a heap and burned, a fire that will burn for days!

For a child has been born—for us! the gift of a son—for us!
He’ll take over the running of the world. His names will be: Amazing Counselor, Strong God, Eternal Father,
Prince of Wholeness. His ruling authority will grow, and there’ll be no limits to the wholeness he brings.
He’ll rule from the historic David throne over that promised kingdom. He’ll put that kingdom on a firm footing and keep it going with fair dealing and right living, beginning now and lasting always. The zeal of God-of-the-Angel-Armies will do all this.”

The Gift of Peace

I was sitting by the bed of my dad who was dying from lung cancer.  He was battling as strongly as he could, but he was losing the battle to this insidious disease.  I felt helpless.  I felt angry.  I felt hopeless at times.  I felt unsettled – my world was about to change forever.  My dad grabbed by hand and said, “Pray for me.  Pray for healing.”  So I did.  I prayed.  It was during that prayer where I begged God to heal my dad that I was overwhelmed with a sense of peace.  It didn’t make any sense, my dad was still dying, my world was still changing, but I felt a warmth, a comfort, a sense of wholeness that makes no worldly sense.  My dad and I were both crying when the prayer ended.  My dad asked me, “Did you feel that?”  I replied, “Yes, I did.”  We felt the presence of our loving God.

I firmly believe that while my dad wasn’t healed physically that day, he was healed spiritually and emotionally.  He was facing many regrets and things he wished he could do, but after that prayer he was at peace.  When we choose Jesus, the Prince of Peace, he brings a wholeness to our lives that is not possible any other way.  Those cracks, those crevices, those empty places in your life – they are filled by the peace of Jesus Christ.  Today we have the blessed opportunity to thank God for the gift of his son Jesus – he brings us love, hope, joy and peace.  This Christmas Eve my prayer for you is found in Romans 15:13, “May the God of hope fill you with all the joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Reflection Questions:

  1. When do you notice yourself feeling chaotic, unsettled, or conflicted?
  2. Can you describe how it feels when you experience the peace of Christ in your life?
  3. How might the peace of Jesus help us live more fully for God in the coming year?
  4. How can you experience peace each day

Activities that you can do to experience the gift of PEACE this Christmas Eve:


  1. Try the White Stocking tradition -
  2. Have you family act out the Christmas story as it’s being read from the Bible.
  3. Write encouraging letters to soldiers through Soldier’s Angels:


Reading (Luke 2:8-14 NASB)

“In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”

The Gift of Joy

There is something special about the joy that gifts bring to people. Each year on Christmas Eve children around the world are filled with anticipatory joy at the thought of what might be lying wrapped underneath their trees. That joy seems to hit its peak when they have ripped off the last piece of wrapping paper, and opened the box to discover the exact gift for which they had been hoping! But somehow, it doesn’t take very long for that excitement to fade, and after just a bit of time that gift doesn’t bring near the same joy as it did the first time it was opened.

This is what is so unique about the gift of Jesus. The angels tell the shepherds in Luke that Jesus’ birth is good news of great joy. This gift wrapped in swaddling cloth is promised to be a source of great joy. The angels couldn’t help but sing his praise, and the shepherds then rushed off to find him. What they came to find was a joy surpassing anything they could imagine. You see, Jesus didn’t come with a gift of joy, but He is the gift of joy himself. There is no greater or more lasting joy than when we surrender our hearts to Jesus. He is our unending joy.

Reflection Questions:

  1. What typically brings you the most joy during the Christmas season?
  2. Are there things in your life that keep you from being joyful? Consider how you might surrender those things to Jesus.
  3. How might the joy of Jesus influence how we treat others during this season?

Child-Friendly Questions:

  1. What was the good news from the angels? (that Jesus was born)
  2. Why was Jesus’ birth so exciting? (He is the savior they had been waiting for)
  3. How can you share the joy of Jesus? (tell your friends about him)

Activities that you can do to help spread joy this Christmas season just as the angels and shepherds did:

  1. Take a tin of popcorn or a plate of cookies to a neighbor on your street.
  2. Call up a friend and offer to watch his/her kids for an evening while he/she finishes up their Christmas shopping.
  3. Buy a toy (such as a plastic dinosaur), tie a Christmas note to it, and leave it at a playground for another kid to find.

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WEEK 2 (DECEMBER 10): THE GIFT OF HOPE by Sharon Blanchard

Mom was running around town, dragging her three children with her, as she ran errands on a Saturday afternoon before Christmas. There were so many things to accomplish – her list seemed to grow longer each day no matter how any items she marked off. Frazzled, they entered the last stop – a department store where she could pick up a few groceries as well as a few other items.

The children begged to go by the toy aisle – and after a chorus or two of “PLEASE??” – she consented. “We can only stay about 10 minutes and I am setting my timer.”

She watched as her three kids ooooohed and aaaaaahed over everything they saw. Each would pick up and review several options before proclaiming individual preferences. She was taking mental notes for future reference.

As they were leaving the store, one of her boys commented, “I sure HOPE I get that Nerf gun for Christmas.” Mom felt an urging to correct her son and she replied, “I think what you mean to say is that your WISH is that you will get that Nerf gun. Son, our HOPE is not in things of this world – our HOPE is in Christ Jesus.”

The word “hope” in scripture means “a strong and confident expectation.” Hope stresses two things: something that will happen in the future and something that you cannot see. (Romans 8:24-25)

The Jews had been waiting and waiting for a Messiah and they trusted that God would send one. The Jews expected that this Messiah would conquer the world and restore the nation of Israel, God’s chosen people, to be the most powerful and highly respected. What they didn’t understand was that the Messiah that God was sending, in the form of a baby, would set free all who trusted and believed in God. All people and all nations will be able to stand in God’s favor if they trust, believe, and follow Jesus Christ.

Our HOPE begins when we believe, confess, and decide to follow Christ. From that point on, as we grow in our faith, our HOPE becomes stronger and stronger. As we follow Christ in our journey of faith, our HOPE:

  1. Affects the way we think and behave – 1 John 3:1-3
  2. Gives us joy and peace – Romans 15:13
  3. Gives us protection – Psalm 33:18
  4. Gives us strength and courage – Psalm 31:24; Romans 12:12
  5. Gives us confidence as we serve God – 1 Timothy 4:10

“Hope” is trust and a confident expectation. Our hope is not in the things of this world – toys, clothes, and gifts. Rather, our HOPE rests in the Holy Spirit’s guidance, the Son Jesus’ unending love, and God’s steadfast grace.



  1. Why is it so hard to wait?

  2. What is the difference between a WISH and HOPE?

  3. What does it mean to expect something?

  4. If we believe that Jesus is worth waiting for, how can we share our HOPE with others?


  Cut out 7 yellow stars and punch a hole in the top of each. Each day throughout the week, a star will be added with yarn or ribbon to make a chain. Read the following scriptures each day and then add the star onto the chain. Write the scripture on one side of the star. End each reading with a prayer, “Come, Lord Jesus, Come.”

  •       - Sunday: Jeremiah 31:31-40
  •       - Monday: Jeremiah 33:14-26
  •       - Tuesday: Isaiah 40:1-11
  •       - Wednesday: Psalm 33
  •       - Thursday: Psalm 130
  •       - Friday: Romans 5:1-11
  •       - Saturday: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11

 Instead of “Elf on a Shelf,” try “Shepherd on a Search.” Find a small doll and dress it like a shepherd. The shepherd searches in the night for the Messiah. Each morning, the shepherd will be in a different place – with a scripture written on a piece of paper – pointing to the coming of Christ. On Christmas morning, have the shepherd find the Messiah in your family’s nativity. Use some of the following scriptures:

     Genesis 49:10                                 Isaiah 9:6-7                         

     Psalm 72:10-11                               Isaiah 11:1-10         

     Micah 5:1-2                                      Jeremiah 23:5

     Isaiah 7:14                                       Numbers 24:17


I have always been a fan of eagles; their majesty, strength, and endurance. So much so that I talked about it a lot to my children and collected pictures, statuettes, and other memorabilia. One day, when my youngest son was around 9 years old, he walked up to me after I got home from work and handed me a large feather, then turned around and left the room. It wasn’t unusual for any of my children to occasionally bring things to me, so I glanced at it, shrugged my shoulders, and proceeded to go change clothes for the evening. My wife caught me and told me that Thomas (our son) had used two days of his school lunch money that week to buy that feather from another student because he believed it was an eagle’s feather. What?

Thomas went without lunch for two days to buy his daddy a feather because he knew it would make him happy. Now, I don’t know if that feather is a real eagle’s feather or not…that wasn’t the point. My 9-year-old Thomas believed it was and he gave it to me as a sacrificial gift of love. It was all his idea. That was 19 years ago, and I still have that feather.

That’s the kind of love that Jesus demonstrated when He went to the cross to suffer and die for your sin. It was His idea and His sacrificial gift of love to you.

John 3:16-17 (NLT) 16 For God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through Him.

Read the Scripture passage above two times out loud. As a family, discuss the following questions:

  1. Who did God send into our world?
  2. Why did God send this person into our world?
  3. What do we have to do to experience the gift of eternal life (which means we live forever with God in heaven after we die)?

Some ideas of things you and your family could do this week to show the love of Jesus to others:

  1. Invite a neighbor family or individual over to your house to eat dinner with your family.
  2. Discover someone in your neighborhood who is struggling emotionally, financially, spiritually, or otherwise. Be creative in thinking of ways to help them in their struggle.
  3. Purchase a gift card to a local restaurant and give it to a teacher, school administrator, secretary, or custodian at one of the local schools. Include a note about the reason for the gift.
  4. Purchase a gift card to a local restaurant and give it to a Meadowbrook leadership team member. Don’t forget to include a note. (Leadership team includes Sunday School teachers, deacons, church ministerial staff, church support staff, committee members, choir members, praise team members, greeters, etc.)