The Story for the
First Sunday of Advent
November 29, 2020
prepared by the Rev’d Rhonda Waters
This Advent, we are not reading the usual lectionary readings. Instead, we have crafted an Advent series that tells the story of God’s saving work through the lens of four pairs or individuals from the Bible who reveal the
transformative power of hope in God.
On Sunday, we will hear these stories in a variety of ways – Bible readings, stories, poems, and songs.
Genesis 16:1-11; 18:1-15; 21:1-20
On the first Sunday in Advent, we will hear pieces of the stories of Sarah and Hagar, as written by Ralph Milton in the Family Story Bible. The link above takes you to the Biblical text on which the story rests. It is too long to reprint here so follow the link and then come back.
Something to Do
Mark the days
Sarah waited and waited for her promised baby (not always with good grace). Our Advent waiting is much shorter and much easier – but it is symbolic of all the much harder waiting we are called on to do. By offering our Advent waiting to God, we sanctify all the other waiting, too.
Mark the days of Advent with Advent candles. Maybe you have the Defiant Hope Advent Candles from our kits this year. Maybe you have your own well-loved Advent wreath. Maybe you just have 5 candles on a plate. Maybe you have 5 toilet paper tubes with cutout flames. It doesn’t matter.
What matters is setting aside a little time each day – at dinner, perhaps – to light this week’s candle and offer a prayer of waiting and of hoping for the fulfilment of God’s promises and the coming of Jesus.
Download this year’s prayers and reflection questions.
Sarah and Hagar
Sarah and Hagar had a profoundly complicated relationship, to say the least. The Bible doesn’t record much in the way of conversation between the two of them but they must have talked a great deal, one way or another. Imagine some of those conversations – or write or draw them.
After giving yourself time to do some of that work, read this dramatic dialogue: The Other Woman: A Conversation Between Hagar and Sarah
Something to Wonder
Hope, lost and found
We see the consequences of lost hope in both Sarah and Hagar – anger, despair, desperation, making choices that hurt themselves and those they love. We also see them find hope again, restored by God’s faithfulness.
Have you ever lost hope? What happened?
Did you recover the same hope or did you find a new hope?
Waiting in Hope
What are you waiting for in these days? What are you hoping for?
Hagar and Sarah
Where do you find yourself in this story?
- Are you getting older and older while you wait and wait and find it harder and harder to hope?
- Are you in the desert, confronting death?
- Are you laughing at God’s messengers?
- Are you reaching for your own solutions?
- Are you in awe at God’s work in your life?
- Are you jealous of those who seem to have what you so desperately want?
- Are you flaunting what you have?
Something to Learn
More on Hagar
Hagar deserves our attention. Start with the Wikipedia articles: Hagar and Hajar in Islam. Then move on to these two articles:
Hagar (the Jewish teaching from Chabad.org)
The amazing story of Hajar and how it’s relevant to you (an Islamic teaching from Hadithoftheday.com)
Something to Pray
Holy God, we do not always understand your word or your ways.
Give us wisdom and imagination and courage as we learn and grow.
The story this week has made me wonder about…
(what questions are still on your heart?)
Receive my questions and help me hear your answers.
The story this week has filled me with…
(how are you feeling?)
Accept my praise, heal my hurt, ease my worry.
The story this week has reminded me of…
(are there situations or people you are thinking of?)
Be with all who are in need of you.
In Jesus’ name, we pray.