I mentioned here how our church community creates a space on each of the sundays through advent to intentionally reflect and remind ourselves of the meaning and experience of Christmas.
You might be wondering what this looks like in practice? Well, as an example, here is a reflection I have written to lead our community in on the the theme of "God with us..."
Introduction: Dim lights. Play video introduction "What if God was one of us". Whilst music plays Paul & Stuart walk to the front and get in position. Video fade to black on the chorus "what if God was one of us? Just a slob like one of us? Just a stranger on the bus, trying to make his way home."
Paul: What if God was one of us?
Stuart: [Reading Phil 2:5-8]:
Let us think of ourselves... "the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn't think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn't claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.
Paul: Jesus, God born human. Born a screaming, crying weak baby
Stuart: No superman, found wandering as a child on the earth in need of adoption.
Paul: No access to his Dad's divine credit card. Born into poverty and obscurity.
Stuart: Jesus, we think he is just a slob like one of us but he is so much more.
Paul [Reading John 1:1-5; 9-14]
The Word was first, the Word present to God, God present to the Word. The Word was God, in readiness for God from day one.
Everything was created through him; nothing—not one thing!— came into being without him. What came into existence was Life, and the Life was Light to live by. The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness; the darkness couldn't put it out.
The Life-Light was the real thing: Every person entering Life he brings into Light. He was in the world, the world was there through him, and yet the world didn't even notice. He came to his own people, but they didn't want him. But whoever did want him, who believed he was who he claimed and would do what he said, He made to be their true selves, their child-of-God selves. These are the God-begotten, not blood-begotten, not flesh-begotten, not sex-begotten.
The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, Generous inside and out, true from start to finish.
Stuart: Jesus, the only true human, showing us what it is to be human kind.
Paul: God become like us in every way - in our weaknesses, fears, friendships, struggles, joys, questions ,pains celebrations...
Stuart: so that through Jesus we can become like him in every way.
Paul: This stranger is our saviour, our only hope, our way home...
Stuart: [Reading Isaiah 53]
Who believes what we've heard and seen? Who would have thought God's saving power would look like this?
The servant grew up before God—a scrawny seedling, a scrubby plant in a parched field. There was nothing attractive about him, nothing to cause us to take a second look. He was looked down on and passed over, a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand. One look at him and people turned away. We looked down on him, thought he was scum. But the fact is, it was our pains he carried— our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us. We thought he brought it on himself, that God was punishing him for his own failures. But it was our sins that did that to him, that ripped and tore and crushed him—our sins! He took the punishment, and that made us whole. Through his bruises we get healed. We're all like sheep who've wandered off and gotten lost. We've all done our own thing, gone our own way. And God has piled all our sins, everything we've done wrong, on him, on him.
[Paul]: He was beaten, he was tortured, but he didn't say a word. Like a lamb taken to be slaughtered and like a sheep being sheared, he took it all in silence. Justice miscarried, and he was led off— and did anyone really know what was happening? He died without a thought for his own welfare, beaten bloody for the sins of my people. They buried him with the wicked, threw him in a grave with a rich man, Even though he'd never hurt a soul or said one word that wasn't true.
Still, it's what God had in mind all along, to crush him with pain. The plan was that he give himself as an offering for sin so that he'd see life come from it—life, life, and more life. And God's plan will deeply prosper through him.
[Stuart]: Out of that terrible travail of soul, he'll see that it's worth it and be glad he did it. Through what he experienced, my righteous one, my servant, will make many "righteous ones," as he himself carries the burden of their sins. Therefore I'll reward him extravagantly— the best of everything, the highest honors— Because he looked death in the face and didn't flinch, because he embraced the company of the lowest. He took on his own shoulders the sin of the many, he took up the cause of all of us black sheep.
End: Dim lights; reprise the music to allow reflection as Paul & Stuart exit the front.