Advent 2021

The Season of Advent 

Advent begins the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day. The word “advent” means “arrival.” During the season of Advent, we celebrate Christ’s coming into the world and watch with expectant hope for his coming again. We celebrate the incarnation of Jesus, “God With Us” and, at the same time, eagerly await the day he arrives again — to redeem, restore, and renew all things.

This is what the Book of Common Worship says about Advent:

In Advent we expectantly wait for the One who has already come. We anticipate the promised justice of God’s new world, yet we praise God who raised the “righteous branch” to rule with justice and righteousness. We hope for the restoration of the afflicted, the tormented, and the grieving, yet we delight that healing has come in Christ. We long for the beating of swords into plowshares, yet we rejoice that the Prince of Peace has appeared. We yearn for the barren deserts of our inner cities to flourish, yet we laud the desert Rose that has bloomed. We dream of the land where lions and lambs live in harmony, yet we acclaim the child born to lead us into the promised land.

The PC(USA) Directory for worship says, “As God created and appointed days, God created a rhythm of time and appointed seasons for worship.” Advent is a gift — a time for us to slow down, breathe, worship, and hope again.

Here are a couple of helpful resources for you:


Advent Conspiracy 

Anchor City is proud to continue to be a part of the Advent Conspiracy movement. Here’s what Advent Conspiracy is all about (from their website):

Advent Conspiracy was founded on the radical idea that we can celebrate Christmas humbly, beautifully, and generously. Advent is the story of a wondrous moment when God entered our world to make things right. It is the greatest story ever told and it changes everything—including the way we celebrate Christmas.

You can watch the video below to catch a glimpse of what it means to be a part of a different story this Christmas, one that celebrates our King and brings hope to the watching world.


Advent Conspiracy Offering 

On the fourth Sunday of Advent, December 19th, we will have our Advent Conspiracy offering. You can give through our

This year, through our offering, we are thankful to support:

Justice Ventures International (global)

Cal-SAFE Escondido Teen Parents Program (local)



40 Days of Prayer • Continued!

Dear Friends,

As we noted, today is the end of our 40 Days of Prayer journey, but the just the beginning of our next chapter of listening to and speaking with God in close conversation!. We pray that it has been a time of growth in our awareness of God’s presence and love both in our lives and in the world. 

As we mentioned on our Instagram post, here are some resources you might find helpful as you continue to grow in the spiritual discipline of prayer.


Apps

Daily Prayer [click here for Google app] • Prayers and Scriptures for morning, midday, evening, and late evening. You can choose to pray 4 times a day or just at one given time. 

Inner Room • Like Pinterest for prayer, you can make a list of prayer topics/people to pray for and organize them as they’ve suggested or as you would like. Set an alarm to pray in a regular rhythm or pray when you can. 

Centering Prayer  • A daily guide for centering and meditating on Christ through prayer and silence. You can set how long you would like for it to be silent and different prayers to begin and end your time.

Lectio 365 • Takes you through Scripture passages by inviting you to pause. reflect. ask. yield. Offers both written prayers and times to pray with your own words as well.

Glorify: Meditation and prayer • Guided meditations, prayer, Bible studies and song

Instagram Accounts

@glorifyappofficial • The instagram account of the app, with daily inspiration, prayers and reflection prompts

@n2prayer • Daily prayers

@our_daily_breath • Daily breath prayers; with words to lead us as we inhale and exhale God’s grace, presence and guidance in our lives

Books

A Diary of Private Prayer, by John Baille • A Christian classic with updated language that has prayers for morning and evening

A Rhythm of Prayer, ed by Sarah Besse • A collection of prayers 

Invitation to Solitude and Silence, by Ruth Haley Barton • A book that invites us to go deeper into our listening to God

Spiritual Disciplines Handbook, by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun • A book of different spiritual disciplines including several ways to pray

Learning to Pray, by James Martin, SJ • A primer on how to pray, to make prayer accessible to everyone.

“Go forth in peace, for you have followed the good road. Go forth without fear, for he who created you has made you holy, has always protected you, and loves you as a mother. Blessed be you, my God, for having created me.”

— St. Clare of Assisi —

Our Sabbath Journey

We started journeying through Scripture to engage Sabbath way back in April! The list below is not exhaustive, but a quick glimpse at several key points:

The presence of the resurrected Christ answers our deepest existential problems of sorrow, fear, and doubt • Jesus has overcome, he is near, and we can be at peace


Sabbath disconnects our identity from what we do and reconnects us to the One who loves us for who we are


If we want to be with God, we must enter into spaces where God is at work — this will often be broken places where God is bringing healing & justice


We engage Sabbath practices as individuals and as a community — in joy, delight, and fun


Sabbath restores trust in God — that, even if you stop working, the world will keep spinning and God will continue to remain in control, God will provide your daily bread, exactly what you need


How does God give you comfort during hard times? How can that overflow to others around you? Do you remember expressing the comforting love of God together as a church now: the love of Christ is like a joyful canopy, held up by the people of God, shining brightly for all to see?


We want to help you find ways to set yourself up for success! How can the practice of your faith lead to greater love, joy, hope? How can your commitment to Sabbath (preparation) help you meet with God on a deeper level than you have before (opportunity)? A joyful, strong, hope-giving life in Christ will not just fall into your lap, especially with all the struggles we face in this world


There is a Sabbath rest — past, present, and future — that anchors us in every moment


Sabbath rest renews & transforms us


Reset Sundays • May 23 & 30, 2021

Our first “Reset Sunday” is coming up this week! As we explained at worship, our hope is that we’ll all be able to take this opportunity to reset our selves and our community, start the promise of restoration from a wearying year, and redirect our intentions to live fully for Jesus, the One who loves us, in all the different aspects of our life. We pray that your upcoming Sabbath days will be a time that you’ll set apart, to honor it and keep it holy. (Exodus 20:8)

On Sunday, we spent some time coming up with a plan that would schedule our reset Sundays. If you haven’t had the opportunity yet, or if you’d like to further plan the one you worked, here are a few reflection questions:


When, where, and how do you feel connected to God?

When do you feel free?

What obstacles stand in the way of you unplugging from your work?

What helps you strengthen your body? Your mind? Your spirit?

How do you feel connected to the Anchor City community? How can you connect to the larger community?

Plan a day that will be restful and meaningful. Will you sleep in? Eat something good? Go somewhere new?


4 things that will be helpful for you to incorporate on this day:

  1. A way for you to feel connected to God
  2. A way for you to feel connected to others
  3. Unplugging from work
  4. A traditional spiritual element: Prayer, Bible, Music

New Year’s 2021 Devotional

If you have the opportunity to do this outdoors, please feel free to engage this devotion outside.


As you begin, take a couple of deep breaths, and ask the Holy Spirit to help you to be aware of God’s presence with you and to be centered in Christ.


Listen (and sing along if you wish) to Waymaker by Sinach:


Read 1 Samuel 7:7-13

7 When the Philistines heard that Israel had assembled at Mizpah, the rulers of the Philistines came up to attack them. When the Israelites heard of it, they were afraid because of the Philistines. 8 They said to Samuel, “Do not stop crying out to the Lord our God for us, that he may rescue us from the hand of the Philistines.” 9 Then Samuel took a suckling lamb and sacrificed it as a whole burnt offering to the Lord. He cried out to the Lord on Israel’s behalf, and the Lord answered him.

10 While Samuel was sacrificing the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to engage Israel in battle. But that day the Lord thundered with loud thunder against the Philistines and threw them into such a panic that they were routed before the Israelites. 11 The men of Israel rushed out of Mizpah and pursued the Philistines, slaughtering them along the way to a point below Beth Kar.

12 Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.”

13 So the Philistines were subdued and they stopped invading Israel’s territory. Throughout Samuel’s lifetime, the hand of the Lord was against the Philistines.

The Israelites come to the prophet Samuel in fear because the Philistines have risen up to attack them. Samuel prays on Israel’s behalf and the Israelites are victorious.

In verse 12, Samuel then sets up a stone and calls it “Eben-Ezer” which means, “stone of help” saying “Thus far the Lord has helped us.”

Throughout the Old Testament we see at different moments where the people use a stone to mark a time to remember something (see Joshua 4). If you’re outside, or you have one in the house, find a rock to mark as your stone of remembrance for this year (if not a rock, perhaps another object to mark as an “object of remembrance”).


This past year has been a year of struggle but, hopefully, also a year of growth. As you look back on the year, consider the following questions:

  • Where were the times you grew in your awareness of God’s presence?
  • When were the times that you struggled the most? When were your greatest moments of growth?
  • When are the times that you look back and can say, “Thus far the Lord has helped us”?

As we look ahead to the New Year, consider setting up the stone (or object) of remembrance somewhere where you can be reminded of how God was with you in 2020. Spend some time in prayer and meditation, asking God to give you a Word of Hope and Remembrance for 2021. If you are with others, share in your household and pray together.


Close with this prayer, written by Jill Duffield:

God of our past, present and future, as the calendar turns and we greet another year, we ask not so much for answers to those questions that perplex us, but for confidence in your never-failing care for us.

As we reflect on the year we leave behind, we begin with gratitude for the moments and the milestones in which we experienced your presence. As we look to the year ahead, we start with hope for a kinder, more just, lavishly loving world. Through all the years, we depend on the abundance of your grace, the generosity of your mercy and the unwavering promise of your compassion.

Aid us, Almighty God, when we fail to be the people you create and call us to be. Comfort us, Abba, when we face times of sadness, loss and grief. Admonition us, Lord of all, when we neglect the teachings of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Guide us, Triune God, all the days of this new year, and indeed, every day of our lives until that time when we see you face to face. Amen.