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Spiritual Practices During Advent



Sing aloud, O daughter Zion;
shout, O Israel!
Rejoice and exult with all your heart,
O daughter Jerusalem!
The Lord has taken away the judgments against you,
he has turned away your enemies.
The king of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst;
you shall fear disaster no more.
On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem:
Do not fear, O Zion;
do not let your hands grow weak.
The Lord, your God, is in your midst,
a warrior who gives victory;
he will rejoice over you with gladness,
he will renew you
in his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing
as on a day of festival.
I will remove disaster from you,
so that you will not bear reproach for it.
I will deal with all your oppressors
at that time.
And I will save the lame
and gather the outcast,
and I will change their shame into praise
and renown in all the earth.
At that time I will bring you home,
at the time when I gather you;
for I will make you renowned and praised
among all the peoples of the earth,
when I restore your fortunes
before your eyes, says the Lord.
(Zeph. 3:14-20)

Zephaniah lived and wrote during the tumultuous time of the reign of King Josiah. Zephaniah witnessed a time of turmoil and chaos for the people of Israel. And, like many of the prophets, Zephaniah encouraged the people to respond to the situation with singing, rejoicing, and exultation. When the world around you is on fire, sometimes this is the only response you can give.[1]

For me, singing and music evoke strong memories of Christmas. “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” was a favorite that my parents would dance to. My father liked to sing “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” to my mother and sneak a kiss, and it wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized why that song made any sense. My mother’s favorite Christmas carol was “O Little Town of Bethlehem.” At her request, we sang it at her memorial service in October 2020. Each year, as we start clearing the dishes from the Thanksgiving meal, that is when I start playing Christmas music. My family cuts me off on New Year’s Day, though lately, I have made the liturgical argument that I should be able to listen to Christmas music through Epiphany. I can’t imagine Advent and Christmas without the music.

Our project this week focuses on Christmas music. We will spread Christmas joy by singing and caroling with others in our community.

Christmas Caroling Project - Listen to your small group’s favorite Christmas hits playlist throughout this week. Sing along with the songs in preparation to go Christmas caroling in a small group. If it is safe to do so, travel as a group to the homes of some church members who are unwillingly absent and sing some of these songs to them. Gather as a group to discuss the experience after you have caroled together.

Weekly discussion questions:

  • 1) What song did you submit and why? What meaning does it hold for you?

  • 2) What song has become a new favorite for you? Why?

  • 3) How has this project affected? Your relationship with someone else? Your relationship with God?


[1] Feasting on the Word, 53.

Spiritual practice shared from Discipleship Ministries.