Happy new year, and blessings during this Advent season!
I was blessed enormously this week by getting to spend two days with The Upper Room staff as well as employees of the General Board of Discipleship in Nashville, Tennessee. I was there to film a video on how to make prayer beads (which is part of their eRetreat course for Advent; the focus is on Pamela Hawkins’ book Behold: Cultivating Attentiveness in the Season of Advent) and to co-lead the staff Advent retreat with Pamela. She spent the morning helping us think about how to “Behold!” and then I talked about prayer beads and taught everyone how to make their own set. It was so wonderful to get to worship, sing, laugh, work, and pray with The Upper Room staff! It was also really wonderful to get to work with Pamela.
One of the special parts of the week was working with Pamela to pair my prayer bead devotion format with the themes in her book. As a result, I decided to use her book as the focus for our prayer devotions this season!
This first devotion is based on the first chapter in her book, which is about “preparation.” Use this devotion and think about how you can prepare for the coming of the Christ child.
Cross: In the name and spirit of Jesus, we pray. Amen
Invitatory Bead: “From ages past no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who works for those who wait for him.” (Isaiah 64:4, NRSV)
First Cruciform Bead: Lord, your love for us is steadfast even though we have sinned and turned away from you.
First set of Week Beads: use each week bead to confess your sins to God.
Second Cruciform Bead: Lord, we wait for you to restore us. We wait for you to come and save us.
Second set of Week Beads: use each week bead to name the people and places in your life and in this world that need restoration.
Third Cruciform Bead: Lord, you have graciously blessed each of us with many spiritual gifts. Help us to use them faithfully as we patiently await the arrival of your Son.
Third set of Week Beads: use each bead to consider the spiritual gifts with which God has blessed you and the ways in which you can use them during this season of Advent. (A sample list of spiritual gifts that is included in Behold! are “patience, listening, prayer, compassion, wisdom, gentleness, teaching, faith, peace, healing, etc.” (p. 31))
Fourth Cruciform Bead: Lord, there are many signs that you are coming to save us. Help us to see them and give thanks.
Fourth set of Week Beads: use each bead to consider the signs of the coming of the Christ child in the season of Advent, and give thanks for them.
Invitatory Bead: Recite the Lord’s Prayer
Cross: In the name and spirit of Jesus, we pray. Amen.