ADVENT 2017

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THE COMMON RULE

THE COMMON RULE is a set of daily and weekly habits designed to form us in the love of God and neighbor. Habits - even our most mundane ones - are matters of worship, and thus powerfully formational. This is even more true during holidays, which are filled with rituals and customs - many of which are rooted in the worship of consumerism and greed, while thinly cloaked in Christian words. The Common Rule - Advent 2017 is way to resist the way these customs would form us, and embrace the way the incarnation of Christ the King would form us. We will explore a set of daily and weekly practices, designed to form us in the CELEBRATION of the King who has come, and in the LONGING he would to come again to reign. We’ll also focus on the issue of hunger in our own back yard and use this time of reflection to understand and sometimes experience the struggles of poverty.


DAILY HABITS

PRAY & WORK: Kneeling prayer at waking, at work, and at bed

Ora et labora, or “work and pray” is the motto of the Benedictine monks. Regular, carefully placed prayer is one of the keystone habits of spiritual formation. Interspersing work with prayer is the reminder that Laborare est Orare -To work is to pray. If you don’t know what to pray, walk through the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) and reflect on how it might apply to your current moment.

READ: Advent Scripture Reading before phone

Refusing to check our phones until after we read a passage of scripture means that we refuse the question "What do I need to do today?" and ask a different one: "Who am I, and who am I becoming?" And “What is this world, and what is it becoming?” Go through the short scripture reading for five minutes - before you take out your phone - so you begin your day in celebrating the incarnation of the King and cultivating the longing that He would come again. If you’re a parent that does the Advent Reading with your family at night, then add this morning rhythm into your personal life as well. 

PRESENCE: No phone while waiting

Life often asks us to wait. In line. In an elevator. At the stoplight. But we don’t know how to wait. We don’t like to wait. So we fill the time with useless, distracted glances at our phones. Through the season of Advent, do not touch your phone while waiting. Learn to wait. Look around you, look at all the people, with their stories and their lives just as real, as beautiful, as painful as yours. See them. Be present. Learn to wait.

EAT: One meal with others every day

A constant succession of meals alone or on-the-go not only overlooks the beauty of what it means to be people who eat, but we also miss generous moments with those we love. One meal a day eaten together emphasizes that we need the lives of others to live, and it gives us those moments to begin doing so.

WEEKLY HABITS

LOVE MERCY, DO JUSTICE: Walk in someone’s shoes

We devote hours during the holidays spending money trying to discover what we really “want” this year. We create desires that can’t be filled, march towards the inevitable depression of the last gift being opened and seeing that we still aren't satisfied. This season we are focusing on hunger and will spend time each week learning and experiencing the obstacles faced by those around us.

FRIENDSHIP: A meaningful conversation with a friend or family member

We long to say what we mean. We long to know and be known. During the week, schedule time with close friends and talk for a long time, and then talk longer. Say what you’ve been meaning to say. Ask good questions, listen, and see the person in front of you.

FAST: Fast for 24 hours or a meal

The holidays are often filled with excess and we become greedy people. Fasting from something not only reminds us that we need Jesus like we need food, it also sets us into a physical and mental state of unique longing. We learn to wait. We remember that there are many who suffer. To fast is to be in solidarity with those who suffer. It is to remember that there is much darkness. It’s to long for the King to come again and make all things new.

CELEBRATE: (January 5 & 6)

The incarnation is unfathomably magical. That God became man in order to redeem all things deserves a party. A big one. As a church we will celebrate the coming of Christ with a packing party to provide meals for others. 


AREA 10 ADVENT FOCUS

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This Advent our goal is to raise $40,000 to purchase and pack 40,000 meals through Generosity Feeds.

Generosity Feeds in a non-profit organization that mobilizes communities to provide meals for children and families who are struggling with hunger in their area. They bring businesses, churches, and schools together to package meals that go directly back to their community. 

We’ll distribute the meals through our local community partners, schools and FeedMore. The exciting thing about this project is it won't end with our Advent offering and packing. There will be many on-going opportunities to be challenged, invite friends and engage with our city.

Fighting Hunger With Generosity Feeds

OUR UNREASONABLE GOAL: No person goes to bed hungry in Richmond

MAJOR HURDLE: The issue of hunger in Richmond is very complex. During Advent, A10 is raising awareness of food deserts, one of the major components that furthers hunger in our community.   

Food deserts are communities in which it is difficult to buy or access affordable or good-quality fresh food. For example, the USDA defines it as a place where individuals have no car and no supermarket within a mile. 

OUR ACTION: Raise awareness and money to pack meals and distribute them through community partnerships.

We know this project only meets a temporary need. Our hope is to educate and move people into service to fight for long term solutions in order to achieve our Christ-driven, unreasonable goal that no individual goes to bed hungry in Richmond.

On January 5 & 6, we’ll be packaging over 40,000 meals at Henderson Middle School. We hope to bring hundreds of people together to collaborate on this effort. During the two days, we’ll need over 750 volunteers to accomplish our goal. We hope that businesses, non-profit organizations, churches, schools and individuals will come and join us through this act of service. 

Sign up as a group, business, family or individual at GenerosityFeedsRVA.org. Children ages 3 and up are welcome to participate with their families.

All packaged meals will be distributed though organizations and schools in our communities. 

NEXT STEPS:

  • Financially give through Area 10’s Advent Offering
  • Register to serve at the packing party and invite others to participate 
  • Get educated on the issue and raise awareness
  • Join us in participating in the weekly Advent challenges 
  • Give time, money and talent towards groups providing long term solutions

WAYS TO GIVE TO ADVENT OFFERING

  • Give online to Advent Offering fund.
  • Collection boxes on the Welcome and Communion Tables at The Byrd Nov. 26, Dec. 3, Dec. 10, Dec. 24
  • Mail in a donation (2820 W Cary St,  RVA 23221) Write ADVENT in the memo line.
  • Ask your friends and family to make a donation in your honor this Christmas.

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WEEK 1: TRANSPORTATION

“According to the Reports and Recommendations to Improve Food Access in the City by the Richmond, VA Food Policy Task Force: While the tracts with high rates of no vehicle access are served by GRTC’s bus system, taking a bus to buy groceries is difficult, cumbersome, and often impossible given the limited bus routes and schedules combined with the location of grocery stores in the city.” In suburban and rural areas, public transportation is either very limited or unavailable, with supermarkets often many miles away from people’s homes.


Sunday        Isaiah 1:16-20

Monday       Isaiah 9:2-7

Tuesday       Luke 1:46-55

Wednesday  Luke 1:67-79

Thursday      Titus 3:3-7

Friday           Romans 12:9-21

Saturday       Psalm 99:1-9

DAILY HABITS

READ: Advent Scripture Reading before phone.

Read the passage, out loud, slowly. Write down or discuss:
What word, image, or thought stands out to me in this passage?
What does this passage tell me about God?
What does it tell me about us?
How should I live in light of this passage?

PRAY: Kneeling prayer at waking, work, and bed

PRESENCE: No phone while waiting

EAT: One meal with others every day


WEEK 1 ACTIVITIES:

LOVE MERCY, DO JUSTICE: ENGAGING TRANSPORTATION

1 in 5 households in Richmond do not have access to a car. This impacts hunger as many of these residents live more than 1 mile from a grocery store. 

CHALLENGE: 

  • Use a different mode of transportation than your normal. 
  • Share a ride with a friend, take public transportation, walk or bike to the grocery store.

Questions:

  1. How did your grocery shopping (or other activity) change/impact you this week?

  2. If you didn't do the challenge, reflect on why you didn’t.

  3. What observations did you have or what did you learn from participating in these activities?

  4. How did this experience help you understand the experience of someone else?

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:

Regional Transportation snapshot

Bike Walk RVA

Richmond Region Mobility Plan

RVA Rapid Transit

FRIENDSHIP: An evening of conversation with a friend

We long to say what we mean. We long to know and be known. As part of your Advent celebration this week, schedule one evening with one or two close friends. Ideally, sit around a fire, and enjoy drinks and food. Talk for a long time, and then talk longer. Say what you’ve been meaning to say.

FAST: Fast for 24 hours

Celebration is right, but the holidays are often filled with excess, and we become greedy people. Fasting from something not only reminds us that we need Jesus like we need food, it also sets us into a physical and mental state of unique longing. We learn to wait. We remember that there are many who suffer. To fast is to be in solidarity with those who suffer, it is to remember that there is much darkness, it is to long for the King to come again and make all things new.

CHALLENGE: If you fast this week, donate the money not spent to the Advent Offering. 


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WEEK 2: ECONOMICS

According to the Food Empowerment Project, studies have found that urban residents
who purchase groceries at small neighborhood stores spend more than other suburban counterparts. Additionally, healthier foods are generally more expensive than unhealthy foods. These costs add up and strain the budgets of many families regardless of their income, but especially families at the lower-end. Government programs, such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Women Infants and Children (WIC), try to subsidize this needs but are far from filling this void. 

Sunday         Isaiah 11:1-10

Monday        Isaiah 40:1-11

Tuesday       John 1:1-13

Wednesday  John 1:14-18

Thursday      Hebrews 12:1-11

Friday           Hebrews 12:12-17

Saturday      Psalm 27:1-6

DAILY HABITS:

READ: Advent Scripture Reading before phone

Read the passage, out loud, slowly. Write down or discuss:
What word, image, or thought stands out to me in this passage?
What does this passage tell me about God?
What does it tell me about us?
How should I live in light of this passage?

PRAY: Kneeling prayer at waking, work, and bed

PRESENCE: No phone while waiting

EAT: One meal with others every day

WEEKLY ACTIVITIES:

LOVE MERCY, DO JUSTICE: ENGAGING FINANCES

The average SNAP benefit per person is approximately $125 per month and that works out to about $1.40 per meal. 

CHALLENGE:

  • Complete the SNAP Challenge by purchasing your groceries for the week/month ($31.25/$125) 
  • Try for at least 3-days to use only $5 per family member to feed the people in your house. 
  • Shop for groceries in one of the identified food deserts in Richmond
  • Use resource, COOKING MATTERS, to find ways to cook healthy meals on a SNAP budget

Questions:

  1. How did your grocery shopping (or other activity) change/impact you this week?

  2. If you didn't do the challenge, reflect on why you didn’t.

  3. What observations did you have or what did you learn from participating in these activities?

  4. How did this experience help you understand the experience of someone else?

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:

Food empowerment project

How to find food deserts

FRIENDSHIP: An evening of conversation with a friend

We long to say what we mean. We long to know and be known. As part of your Advent celebration this week, schedule one evening with one or two close friends. Ideally, sit around a fire, and enjoy drinks and food. Talk for a long time, and then talk longer. Say what you’ve been meaning to say.

FAST: Fast for 24 hours

Celebration is right, but the holidays are often filled with excess, and we become greedy people. Fasting from something not only reminds us that we need Jesus like we need food, it also sets us into a physical and mental state of unique longing. We learn to wait. We remember that there are many who suffer. To fast is to be in solidarity with those who suffer, it is to remember that there is much darkness, it is to long for the King to come again and make all things new.

CHALLENGE: If you fast this week, donate the money not spent to the Advent Offering. 


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WEEK 3: EDUCATION

There is no doubt that a child who grows up without adequate nutrition will face significant barriers to academic achievement. The various physical, behavioral, emotional, and cognitive costs of food insecurity make it extremely difficult for these students to reach their full potential. Although schools’ various programs have been providing meals to income-eligible students for years, they may not be enough on their own to mitigate the damaging effects of long term food insecurity on students.

Sunday        Isaiah 52:7-15

Monday       Isaiah 53:1-12

Tuesday      Matthew 5:1-12

Wednesday Matthew 5:13-16

Thursday     1 Peter 2:1-8

Friday          1 Peter 2:9-17

Saturday      Psalm 43:1-5

DAILY HABITS

READ: Advent Scripture Reading before phone

Read the passage, out loud, slowly. Write down or discuss:
What word, image, or thought stands out to me in this passage?
What does this passage tell me about God?
What does it tell me about us?

How should I live in light of this passage?

PRAY: Kneeling prayer at waking, work, and bed

PRESENCE: No phone while waiting

EAT: One meal with others every day


WEEKLY ACTIVITIES:

LOVE MERCY, DO JUSTICE: ENGAGING SCHOOLS

According to Virginia Department of Education "through school nutrition programs, 1.46 million lunches, 49.8 million breakfasts and 1,372,712 after-school snacks are served on a typical day in Virginia public schools.”

CHALLENGE:

  • Skip a meal every day (safely). How did this impact your energy levels, attitude etc?
  • Programs such as the Feeding America Backpack Program helps children get  "the nutritious and easy-to-prepare food  they need to get enough to eat on the weekends.” For one weekend, plan your meals based on the foods a student participating in a school backpack program may receive.  
  • Keep a food journal documenting your meals this week. Use the food journal to answer the reflection questions at the end of the week.

Questions:

  1. How did your grocery shopping (or other activity) change/impact you this week?

  2. If you didn't do the challenge, reflect on why you didn’t.

  3. What observations did you have or what did you learn from participating in these activities?

  4. How did this experience help you understand the experience of someone else?

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:

A Department of Education - School Nutrition

Family story on hunger and school food

Virginia Food Access Network

USDA Choose My Plate

USDA Nutritional Education resources

FRIENDSHIP: AN evening of conversation with a friend

We long to say what we mean. We long to know and be known. As part of your Advent celebration this week, schedule one evening with one or two close friends. Ideally, sit around a fire, and enjoy drinks and food. Talk for a long time, and then talk longer. Say what you’ve been meaning to say.

FAST: Fast for 24 hours

Celebration is right, but the holidays are often filled with excess, and we become greedy people. Fasting from something not only reminds us that we need Jesus like we need food, it also sets us into a physical and mental state of unique longing. We learn to wait. We remember that there are many who suffer. To fast is to be in solidarity with those who suffer, it is to remember that there is much darkness, it is to long for the King to come again and make all things new.

CHALLENGE: If you fast this week, donate the money not spent to the Advent Offering. 


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WEEK 4: SYSTEMS

While unhealthy eating may be financially cheaper in the short-term, the consequences of long-term constrained access to healthy foods is one of the main reasons populations suffer from statistically higher rates of obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and other diet-related conditions than the general population. Movements such as farmers markets, community gardens, farming cooperatives, community supported agriculture, and capital lenders are all ways to chip away at the footprint of food deserts by building up assets within the community, or partnering with others to help lessen the divide. 

Sunday         Isaiah 60:1-5

Monday        Matthew 5:38-48

Tuesday        Matthew 25:31-40

Wednesday  Psalm 107:1-9

Thursday      Psalm 107:33-43

Friday            Psalm 107:10-16

Saturday       Psalm 22:22-28

DAILY HABITS:

READ: Advent Scripture Reading before phone.

Read the passage, out loud, slowly. Write down or discuss:
What word, image, or thought stands out to me in this passage?
What does this passage tell me about God?
What does it tell me about us?

How should I live in light of this passage?

PRAY: Kneeling prayer at waking, work, and bed

PRESENCE: No phone while waiting

EAT: One meal with others every day


WEEKLY ACTIVITIES:

LOVE MERCY, DO JUSTICE: ENGAGING SOLUTIONS

As we've seen over the past four weeks, food deserts are just one part of the daily reality for those living in poverty and in marginalized communities. Though improving access to healthy foods in these communities is important, the work doesn't stop there. Lasting change comes when we tackle the larger system of concentrated poverty in our region. There are many facets to this issue, and no one person is called to tackle them all. If we each focus on one element of poverty, together we can tackle the system.

CHALLENGE:

• Identify an issue in the report that you feel drawn to.  
• Pray for change in Richmond Region in regards to that issue.
• Find an organization that does work on that issue. Serve in that organization

Questions:

  1. What activity did you do this week? What did you learn?

  2. If you didn't do the challenge, reflect on why you didn’t.

  3. What observations did you have while participating in these activities?

  4. How did this experience help you understand the experience of someone else?

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:

City of Richmond - Community Gardens:

Renew Richmond

Virginia Community Capital

Feed More

Living in a food desert documentary

FRIENDSHIP: An evening of conversation with a friend

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We long to say what we mean. We long to know and be known. As part of your Advent celebration this week, schedule one evening with one or two close friends. Ideally, sit around a fire, and enjoy drinks and food. Talk for a long time, and then talk longer. Say what you’ve been meaning to say.

CELEBRATE:

The incarnation is unfathomably magical. That God became man in order to redeem all things deserves a party, a big one. As a church we will celebrate the coming of Christ with a Packing Party on January 5 and 6 at Henderson Middle School to provide meals for others. Invite a friend, co-worker, a neighbor to join.

Register at GenerosityFeedsRVA.org