The lessons focus on significant words of the season. They are arranged: 1. Hope, 2. Peace, 3. Joy, and 4. Love. However, feel free to arrange them according to the Advent practices of your congregation.
Ready the videos; gather an Advent wreath with candles and matches; provide Bibles and refreshments, paper and colored pencils.
Welcome all guests. Conduct a brief time for introductions of new participants.
Briefly review the scope of the study and The Bible Project. Speak about expectations regarding group dynamics, such as honoring one another with respect.
Offer an opening prayer. Light the first two Advent candles.
Prompt discussion: When you hear the word “peace,” what comes to your mind? What feelings or memories are evoked?
Make available paper and colored pencils and invite participants to doodle or draw as they watch the video.
Introduce the video: “Peace” is a very common word in English. It means different things to different people. It’s also a very important word in the Bible that refers not only to the absence of conflict but also to the presence of something else. In this video, we’ll explore the core meaning of biblical peace and how it all leads to Jesus.
Watch the video.
Following the video, note key ideas such as the Hebrew word, “shalom,” and the Greek “eirene” meaning wholeness and completeness; Jesus gives us his peace; we are called to be people of peace.
Invite participants to offer comments and observations on what they saw and drew. Discuss: “Shalom,” means “whole,” describing peace within oneself and peace between people. What is the connection between inner peace and outer peace? Can we have one without the other? How can we be people of peace without promoting compassion, justice, and unity?
Introduce Isaiah 9:2-7. The covenant people are in exile in a foreign land, a condition the prophets said had resulted from their disobedience to God. Now, the prophet announces that God is extending peace and reconciliation to them through a new ruler.
Invite volunteers to read Isaiah 9:2-7.
Discuss: What emotions do you detect in the reading? What does peace mean for the prophet? Why do you think the promise of a new leader evokes promises of peace? When have you felt that way about new leadership?
Invite volunteers to read Isaiah 11:1-9. What does the image of the peaceable kingdom mean to you? How does this passage express peace as the absence of conflict and the presence of connection and completion? What steps have you taken this week to make the world a more peaceful place?
Introduce the Vulcan hand greeting. by either reading this text or watching the video below: Actor Leonard Nimoy, who played the Vulcan Mr. Spock on the original Star Trek, invented a hand greeting based on a Jewish blessing. The hand forms the Jewish letter “shin,” the first letter in the Hebrew word “shalom” (the palm facing forward, thumb extended, and his middle and ring finger parted). It’s often accompanied with the spoken words “live long and prosper,” sometimes paired with the words, “peace and long life.”
Practice making the Vulcan greeting with words of peace. Wonder together how such a greeting can make be one of the tools for making peace. If your congregation passes the peace during worship, talk about ways to live out that greeting.
1. Discuss: Where in your life do you experience connection and a sense of completion? What factors contribute to your peace? What hampers your sense of peace? How can you make peace in such circumstances?
2. Discuss where peace needs to be restored in your life and in your community. List your answers as a petition to God. Circle one thing on the list. Prayerfully consider what practical steps you or your community can take to bring connection and completion to that one fragmented place.
3. Read Luke 2:8-14. Wonder together why the angels announce peace to the world at Jesus’ birth. How does Jesus connect you with God’s peace? What is it like to have peace with God?
God of peace, you have promised the end of conflict on earth, yet the world is still at war. Give us the resolve to be people of peace wherever we are and with whomever we meet. This we pray in the name of Jesus Christ, the prince of peace. Amen.