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The December issue of Take Out is filled with articles and ideas to help you connect with families throughout the season of Advent and Christmastime. This month’s “Conversations that Matter” series can be transformed easily into an Advent Evening of Reflection for adults and families. Find the Christmas Pageant Script here»
Invite parents to gather in small faith communities to learn about and reflect on the season of Advent. Invite dialogue by having your parents read an article from the December issue of Take Out and discuss using the questions below.
Reserve a room in your parish that is large enough to accommodate 25-50 people (or more!) Set up tables with 5-7 chairs at each. (Having people sit at tables is an easy way to divide them into small groups.) Several sets of the discussion questions (see below) should be in the middle of each table along with a few copies of the December issue of Take Out magazine.
A simple dark blue (or dark purple) candle can grace the center of each table with some simple greens or pine cones. Refreshments are always welcome and need not be fancy or time-consuming to display. Coffee (decaf?) and cookies are usually a welcome after-dinner treat that invite fellowship and conversation.
7:00 p.m. Opening Prayer and Greeting (Give five minutes for parishioners to introduce themselves to the other people at their table)
7:05 p.m. Brief overview of the article to be discussed and short catechesis about the season of Advent
7:15 p.m. Refer participants to discussion questions on each table and begin small group discussion (Make sure participants understand that the questions are a beginning for their discussion – they can discuss one of them or all of them. Remember to make room for the movement of the Spirit in these discussions that may take a group in a new or unexpected direction.)
8:00 p.m. Break for refreshments
8:10 p.m. Come together as a large group and discuss article (write important thoughts and contributions on a white board or flip chart)
8:20 p.m. Offer time for silent prayer and reflection
8:30 p.m. Close with prayer or scripture reading (see optional closing prayer at the end of this article)
“What Happened to the Season of Giving?” by Dr. Joseph White, page 7 in December Take Out
1. With Christmas decorations in stores before Halloween, many families struggle with the season of Advent and the concept of waiting. How does your family celebration Advent?
2. With all the materialism associated with Christmas, what are some ways we can remember and celebrate the real meaning of Christmas – Christ’s birth?
3. Do you or does someone you know participate in a special outreach effort during the Christmas season? Share with the group.
4. What are some ways that Dr. White says may help teach our kids the joy of giving (as well as receiving)? Can you think of other ideas as well?
Ideally, your parish will offer childcare for parents of young children for this evening. If that is not possible, try coordinating these evenings with your Child Faith Formation staff person. While parents are engaged in small faith sharing groups, offer children an Advent craft, activity or even a Christian movie at the same time. (Creating and coloring a Jesse tree is a great craft activity that helps young children learn about Jesus’ family tree and the season of Advent as well. See the Jesse Tree activity»
Because Take Out magazine is often shipped early, you can plan ahead for next month’s discussion article. Check this website for monthly discussion questions, tips for successful family faith formation and new ways that Take Out can be a ministry resource.
Make sure to let participants know that they can bring a friend or another couple to next month’s discussion – numbers often grow as the series continues.
We wait once again in this Advent season
With your whole Church,
“Come, Lord Jesus.”
Yet we know you are here.
Teach us again about waiting
Make us more aware of how we can reach out to those
Who can do nothing but wait
The poor, the sick, the lonely, the suffering.
Teach us again about your coming,
That you are close than we can imagine.
Help us discover one new, surprising way you are with us.
Come, Lord Jesus.
-- Sr. Janet Schaeffler, OP
Sister Janet Schaeffler, O.P.
DEC. 2 — MATTHEW 24:37-44: STAY AWAKE. What are some ways Jesus comes to us each day? How can we “stay awake” to the real meaning of Advent/Christmas during these next few weeks? God is everywhere, especially in unexpected places. Where/when did you meet God when you weren’t expecting to last week? How can you be more awake this week?
DEC. 9 — MATTHEW 3:1-12: JOHN THE BAPTIST TELLS US, “PREPARE THE WAY.” During the remaining weeks of Advent, what kinds of good fruit do you want to produce? How can God’s Word change our lives during this Advent? What needs changing?
DEC. 16 — MATTHEW 11:2-11: JESUS BEGINS A VISION OF THE KINGDOM. How would you answer the question, “Who am I?” How would you answer the question, “Who is Jesus?” How do you get to know Jesus? What could we do to offer healing to people we know who are hurting? John the Baptist, a messenger, paved the way for Jesus. Who has been a messenger of God’s messages for you? Write a thank you note to him or her.
DEC. 23 — MATTHEW 1:18-24: THE BIRTH OF JESUS. Names are important; tell us who we are (Emmanuel). Part of our name is Christian. What do people think of when they know we are Christian? Joseph was hospitable; he welcomed Mary to his home. How are we hospitable to others? How do our lives show others that “God is with us?” Joseph’s dream changed his life. What do you think God dreams for the world? Whose dreams can you make come true? Joseph made a choice that changed the world. What kinds of choices have we made that help others?
DEC. 30 — MATTHEW 2:13-15,19-23: THE FAITH OF JOSEPH. God reveals himself in the everyday circumstances of our lives; God is present in family life. Tell each other the best three things you see in them. How is our family like the Holy Family? If your family had to move quickly (as the Holy Family did), what would you want to take with you? What things are necessary for families to grow? Which things do your family to need to work on right now? Write a prayer of thanksgiving for your family. Post it on your refrigerator so you can use it often. With the whole Church we are a family because of our baptism. Together, how can we change the world?
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