Daily Devotional by Text and Email
For those who are looking to “go deeper” and really dig into this season, we’ve put together a daily devotional, written by the people of Haymarket Church. A mixture of stories, personal reflections, Bible stories, prayer, and more, each morning we send a link (by text and email) that will take you to something that has been written by one of the people of Haymarket Church and that is meant to help you get into the spirit of Christmas – and to help you pay attention to God. To sign up to receive these daily devotionals by text, simply text “Advent” to 474747. To sign up to receive them by email, simply send an email with the subject line “Sign me Up for the Advent Devotional” to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can find all of the devotionals (all those that have been published so far) at HaymarketChurch.org/AdventDevo20.
A letter from Pastor Brian:
It’s going to be a weird Christmas this year, isn’t it? So many of our Christmas traditions have been disrupted, our ability to gather together is limited, and many of us aren’t quite sure how to have a “holly jolly Christmas” in the middle of a pandemic and a season of uncertainty. So, since we can’t be together in-person this year, we decided to do something special to help you experience the Christmas season wherever you find yourself.
What you’ve just opened is what we are calling a “Christmas-at-Home box.” It includes a package for each week leading up to Christmas – think of them as little presents – and each package contains an activity for you to do that week, to help you experience Christmas – and encounter God – during this season. Open each package on the Sunday of that week – so, open package #1 on November 29, package #2 on December 6, package #3 on December 13, package #4 on December 20, and the final package on Christmas Eve. You will also find some items that you are encouraged to use all month long – including an Advent calendar that will help you collect donations to the Haymarket Regional Food Pantry and a candle that you can light every day as a way to count down to Christmas and spend time each day in prayer.
We have invested a fair bit of time, effort, and money in creating these boxes. We think that all of that was well-invested, because this season matters. The message of this season – that God is with us, that God has become one of us in order to save us – is essential. It’s a message of hope. As we say every year on Christmas Eve, the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it. So, we are offering you these boxes as a little sign of God’s light, hoping that they will light up your Christmas season.
We encourage you to listen to God speaking to you through that music and let that song be a theme for your week, each week.
If you’re looking for a daily resource to help you hear God speaking during this crazy season, we also have a daily devotional that has been written by the people of Haymarket Church. Each day, there’s a reflection/story/Scripture reading/prayer to help you think about Christmas and get into the spirit of the season. The devotional is online. You can sign up to receive it by text each morning by texting
“Advent” to 474747.
Or, you can go to HaymarketChurch.org/AdventDevo20 to view it. And, since it’s online, we are able to include weekly musical performances from some of the people of Haymarket Church.
It’s going to be a weird Christmas, but God is still Good, and God is still with us. The Good News of Christmas is just as true as it has ever been. We hope this Christmas-at-Home box helps you experience the wonders of the season this year!
The Advent Candle Each kit contains an Advent kalenderly (countdown candle). It is our hope that you will choose a specific time of day to pause, light this candle, and reflect each day during this Advent season.
So, what is a kalenderly?
A kalenderly is a tradition associated with the people of Denmark. In Denmark these Christmas calendar candles printed with the numbers 1 through 24 are used to help countdown to Christmas. Each day at breakfast, the candle is lit, and it is allowed to burn down to the next number. As one writer describes it, “In most families the candles are lit every day from December 1st as a soothing factor in a hectic period, quite often at the breakfast table… Frequently it is the childrens’ duty to blow out the candle before it burns down too far into the next date.”
The candle serves as a countdown to Christmas. You will light the candle as you reflect and pray and then blow it out just before it reaches the next day’s number. We encourage you to pray this prayer daily as you light your kalenderly:
Prayer for each day’s candle lighting:
“Dear God, you sent us Jesus, the Light of the World, to light up our darkness. May the light of this candle remind us of the light of your love. As we prepare for Christmas, shine your light into our hearts, so that we may know you, and love you, and live for you today and each day.”
This calendar is a fun way to count down the days to Christmas. Each day, you add one of the included stickers to that date on the calendar. Each day also includes a brief snipped of the Christmas story (great for reading with the whole family, especially if you have children!). And, each day there is a recommended item to collect for the Haymarket Regional Food Pantry.
Collect those items, put them in the paper bag that’s included and bring them to our in-person worship on December 20 or Christmas Eve.
We will take those donations to the Food Pantry – and, by doing that, your celebration of the season will help feed someone who is hungry!
Jesus was born into poverty, and so, by collecting food, our Christmas celebrations will be aware of folks whose
lives are much like the life of Jesus!
If you are unable to attend either of the in-person worship services (December 20 or 24) send us an email at email@example.com and we will try and make arrangements for you to drop off your food items at our Ministry Center (above Town Hall).
Advent Week 1
Start A Reverse Christmas Countdown Chain
This is a week for preparing your heart (and beginning to prepare your home) for Christmas. As you begin to think “where will the tree go?” and think about all the ornaments you will hang, we want to invite you to make a paper chain that will help you countdown to Christmas.
We used to do this kind of thing when we were children (or when we had little children at home), but we could all use a little child-like joy this year.
We’ve included sheets of red, green, and white construction paper in your box.
- Each day, cut a 1-inch strip of the construction paper.
- Then, write a prayer or something for which you are thankful on the paper.
- Then, add it to your chain.
- Hang the chain somewhere in your house where you will see it frequently and it will remind you to pray for all the things listed on it.
Share a photo of your paper chain and let us know where in your home it will live as you count down to Christmas with prayers and thanksgiving.
Write a note to some of the people on your paper chain prayer list. Let them know that you are praying for them during this season.
And, spend some time with each of the music videos listed for week 1 on the Christmas-at-Home website. Which is your favorite version of this classic Christmas song? Why did you choose that one? Comment on our Facebook Post and let us know what you think. Use the hashtag #HaymarketChristmas.
Week 1 Song- “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”
For week 1 (starting Sunday, November 29), our theme song is “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” This song is a song of hope and longing. In this song, we ask God to step into our world, and set things right. We’ve got three very different versions of the song this week. Take a listen and see which one speaks most to you!
Advent Week 2
Plant Some Seeds
Winter doesn’t seem like the time for planting seeds. And, yet, some plants can thrive even when they are planted in the middle of a cold season. This week we encourage you to plant some seeds in a tiny pot. As we wait for the coming of the Christ child, we will nurture these tiny seeds and wait for new growth.
- Plant these seeds 1/4 inch deep in the pot.
- Place in a sunny spot
- Keep soil moist
- And see what blooms.
And, remember, even when the world seems dark or when hope is difficult to grasp, we can still plant seeds of faith. And we never know when those seeds of faith, planted in a cold season, will bloom into a springtime of goodness, righteousness, and love.
Prayer for planting seeds:
God, may my seeds of faith, planted in a dark time of year, bloom into a springtime of joy and love.
This week we want you to snap a photo after you plant the seeds. Share it to our post or on your social media using the #HaymarketChristmas hashtag. Later, once your plant starts to grow, share that with us as well. As we countdown to Christmas, we will watch for signs of growth.
This week’s song is “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus.”
This song is a prayer, asking for Jesus to step into our world and make things right. What things are wrong in our world that we need Jesus to fix? What parts of your life need more Jesus in them? Take a moment to answer those questions and then pray for God to step into your life and make things right this season.
Advent Week 3
In the Gospel of Matthew, we read about a star that guided wise people – sometimes called “magi” – from a far off land to come and see Jesus. Journeying far from home, the star pointed them towards something holy. Like those magi, we too must take a long journey through this world, and we depend upon God’s light to guide us. Sometimes, when things seem dark, just a glimpse of light is enough to show us the way and give us hope.
Use this star-shaped cookie cutter to shine some light in your community and in your own home. Make a batch of star-shaped cookies and share them with a friend or a neighbor (front-door cookie deliveries are generally pretty popular!). You can also make cookies together as a family unit, and spend intentional time together – as you bake, talk about where you have seen signs of God’s light and love this year.
Bonus: Tacky[sweater] Mask
Tacky sweaters are a holiday tradition, but this year, masks are the essential fashion accessory that we all need. So, we’ve given you a plain mask. This week, decorate your mask to look like a tacky sweater.
Have fun with it, and be ready to share! We can’t do our sweater contest in-person, so we will have a virtual tacky mask contest! Look for details during worship and on our Social Media channels.
When you make your cookies this week, take a picture of them and share them online using the hashtag #HaymarketChristmas. When you post the photo, use it as an opportunity to describe how you are seeing light or sharing joy this week!
This week’s song is a modern adaptation of “Joy to the World” – and the chorus in this version speaks of “unspeakable joy” that arises in our souls. What is giving you joy right now? Take some time this week to do something life-affirming and joy-producing. And, find a way to share a little bit of joy with someone else who needs it bloom into a springtime of joy and love.
Week 3 Song- “Joy (Unspeakable Joy)”
This week, we are listening to a classic with a fresh twist. “Joy to the World” is a classic, high energy Christmas carol. This version adds a fresh twist – a new chorus. The energy bursts forth from this song, inviting us to allow the joy of Jesus’ birth to burst forth from our hearts.
Advent Week 4
Make An Ornament
Christmas is almost here. Take some time to make this simple ornament (using the included instructions) and hang it on your tree. It has been a hard year – but, through it all, God is with us. You are not alone. That’s the Good News of Christmas. May this simple ornament be a reminder that God can show up in even the smallest things and plainest appearances.
- Glue the two large clothespins to the star as pictured.
- Attach the small round piece to the small flat piece (to form baby Jesus!).
- Attach the baby Jesus to the clothespin couple.
- Tie string through the star.
- Hang on your tree.
Optional – Paint or color the pieces before you put them together.
Take a photo of your ornament hanging on your tree and share it using the hashtag #HaymarketChristmas. Maybe hang it next to one of your favorite ornaments and describe why that ornament means so much to you.
This week’s song is a relatively new Christmas carol called “Welcome to Our World.” This song is about what it means for God to become human. God has stepped into our vulnerability – in Jesus, God becomes frail like us. In Jesus, God is born into poverty, to an unwed teenage mother, as a member of an oppressed people. In Jesus, God has become one of us. Take some time to listen to this song – pay close attention to its lyrics. What does it mean to welcome Jesus into our world, in all of its brokenness? What Good News is there in God becoming weak and broken like us?
Week 4 Song- “Welcome to Our World”
This song is written as a letter of welcome to Jesus as he is born into our world. It’s a song that celebrates the humanity of Jesus – he wraps our weary flesh around himself, saves us through our own fragile humanity. It also celebrates just how radical Jesus is – he brings peace to disrupt our violence, he is the Word who breaks heaven’s silence. Take a moment to listen and celebrate the beauty of the gift that Jesus is.
A Gift for You
This ornament is a gift from Haymarket Church, for you to hang on your tree. It’s been a weird year for all of us. Lots of ups and downs. This ornament is meant to remind you that even in this crazy year, God is with you – and your church is with you too! Hang it on your tree, and every time you look at it, remember that you are not alone!
Christmas Eve Worship (in-person and online)
On Thursday, December 24, Haymarket Church will celebrate Christmas Eve worship in online and in-person formats. Our Online Christmas Eve Worship will go live at 4 PM. It will include Christmas music, a Christmas sermon, and a virtual children’s pageant with the children of Haymarket Church acting out the Christmas story from home! You can view this worship service on our Facebook page (Facebook.com/HaymarketChurch) and our YouTube Channel (search for Haymarket Church on YouTube), or by going to HaymarketChurch.org/Livestream-Worship.
We will also gather for a short, in-person, socially distanced, outdoor candlelight service at Haymarket Elementary School (15500 Learning Lane, Haymarket, VA) at 6 PM on Thursday, December 24. Worship will be outdoors (so dress warmly), but will also be short (20ish minutes). Bring your own folding chair if you’d like to sit! Worship will include prayer, a reading of the Christmas story, and Christmas carols sung by candlelight.
For more information, and to fill out the health form online, go to HaymarketChurch.org/news/Candlelight2020 (beginning December 20).
We’ve created a playlist of these 6 songs for you to listen to this season. There are 6 different versions of each of the weekly songs– by various artists in various genres. We hope this music fills your home with joy and anticipation this Christmas season.