The North Alabama Conference's Adult Discipleship Team has created an Advent study for churches to use this year. The study is called advent[ure]: A Journey through the Christmas Story.
The four-week study is based on four journeys found in the familiar story we hear, read and sing about each year at Advent. To stress the Wesleyan beliefs espoused by the United Methodist Church, the studies utilize the Wesleyan Quadrilateral, which is a method of Bible study based on John Wesley's belief that four sources should be used in theological reflection:
- Scripture, which Wesley recognized as the true authority. Each week, a Scripture passage from the Advent story is the focus of the lesson. Participants are asked to read and reflect on the passage in the days before meeting with the study group for discussion.
- Tradition, which Wesley believed supplies a historical link to Jesus and the apostles. The study includes descriptions of traditional spiritual practices handed down over the centuries, which may be used as a way of connecting.
- Reason, without which Wesley said we cannot understand the essential truths of Scripture. During discussion time within each group, participants are encouraged to share how their own personal story speaks to what they have read and heard on the week's topic.
- Experience, which Wesley believed was perhaps the strongest proof of our belief, coming from our own personal feelings of holiness and happiness. Weekly videos will featuring a pastor or layperson sharing her own experience related to the topic.
In addition, students are reminded of Wesley's three-fold description of grace and encouraged to look for examples of prevenient, justifying, and sanctifying grace in the Advent story.
Members of the Adult Discipleship Team worked together to write the four-week Advent study, which has been vetted by several clergypersons including Bishop Wallace-Padgett. Bishop Wallce-Padgett is seen on each week's video, reading the scripture and offering a brief commentary on the week's topic before introducing the presenter for that week.
Week 1: Mary Visits Elizabeth
Rev. Tori Hastings talks about Mary and Elizabeth and the encouragement they offer one other.
Week 2: Mary and Joseph Go to Bethlehem
Pashion Lewis talks about responsibility and the part it plays in answering God's call on our lives.
Week 3: The Shepherds Find the Baby Jesus
Rev. Sherry Harris ponders on worship as the response to God's presence in our lives.
Week 4: The Magi Bring Gifts to the Messiah
Stephanie Sparks discusses how we seek Jesus and the gifts we offer him.
The advent[ure] study is free for local churches to use, with weekly participant readings and leader guides available for download from the Conference web site and accompanying videos on a youtube.com channel. These free materials will be available by November 4. Visit www.quadstudies.com