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Bishop Kennetha will be leading four sessions during Advent on the book “Unrelenting Grace" by Bishop Ken Carter. Be sure to get registered for this online study!
The Iowa Conference has also put together resources for our local churches to connect these themes with worship throughout the Advent and Christmas season. This page will be updated to include song suggestions, liturgies, and an intergenerational small group resource that will accompany Bishop Kennetha’s teaching! Below is an overview of the themes for each Sunday that connect with "Unrelenting Grace" as you begin your planning for the season. Keep checking back for additional resources to be linked in the menu on the left.
Core Scriptures: Isaiah 64, Genesis 1:27
Our HOPE is “to see all persons as worthy of the life that our Creator desires for us.” (p. 20-21) The season of Advent prepares us for the incarnation when God took on flesh. But it is also an affirmation of the imago dei in each of us. If that is the case, why does that not yet describe our lives and relationships? Why are we so far from that reality? In the already/not yet of Advent, we long and hope for the fullness of God’s vision for humanity to be realized. As United Methodists, we believe the answer lies in our identity as people of grace, connection, and holiness.
Core Scriptures: Isaiah 40, 2 Peter 3, Mark 1:1-8
Our PEACE is “a right relationship with God… a right relationship with each other.” (p. 27) We long for connection, for peace, for reconciliation with one another and with our God… but sometimes it takes so long for that gift of peace to arrive. Isaiah carries this promise to those in exile, but so does John the Baptist in the wilderness. What does it mean for us today to seek new connections and restore relationships with one another?
Core Scriptures: Isaiah 61: 1-4, 8-11; John 1:6-8, 19-28; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
Our JOY is found as we “give thanks for the astonishingly different gifts” in our lives and stories. (p. 49) The story of John the Baptist continues in week three of Advent. His story was met with questions because he did not fit the mold and conflicted with expectations. How can we hear the Spirit speaking in the wilderness without quenching it? Who are the prophets we should be listening to? What does it look like to test everything… with joy? Paul’s letter gives us a blueprint for convicted humility and how we might celebrate the stories of others.
Core Scriptures: Luke 1:46b-55, Luke 1:26-28, Hebrews 10: 23-25
Our LOVE is “provoked by the remembrance of who we are.” (p. 61) When Mary speaks, “Here I am, the servant of the Lord,” she is responding to the promises of God being realized all around her. And she catches a vision of the future God intends, singing out with all her soul. Those promises also call out to us, sparking within our own lives acts of love and good deeds. What are the gifts we are invited to bring and offer as we work towards the future God intends?
Core Scriptures: Isaiah 9:2-7, Titus 2:11-14, Luke 2:1-14
Throughout Advent, we have been exploring the gift of God’s unrelenting grace. It is “the gift of a grace that saves, a connection that sustains, a holiness that is complete love of God, neighbor, and yourself.” As the scriptures for Christmas Eve remind us, God’s dwelling place is with us. Let us trust again in that promise and make space to be stretched, mystified, unraveled, and healed.
Core Scriptures: Isaiah 61: 10-62:3, Luke 1:22-40
When Anna and Simeon encounter the Christ child the past and the future collides. What do we need to do in order “to be a bridge between what has been... with gratitude, remembering, rejoicing… and what will be” (p. 55-56)? While still clinging to basic practices like welcoming unconditionally, walking together, and worshipping constantly, how can we also take our cues from the generation who “will design and [re]build a house that they themselves will live in.” (p.57)
Core Scriptures: Isaiah 60: 1-9, 17b-20; Matthew 2:1-12
How is the light of Christ shining into our lives and calling us into a new way of being? When that light shines into the gloomy corners of our lives, we discover truths about ourselves that must be confessed, but that light and confession also makes way for healing. This Epiphany, we will focus on how we see ourselves more clearly.