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Adventus: Ancient Practices for an Advent at Home

A nativity figure of a shepherd holds a young lamb. Photo by Kathleen Barry, UMNS
A nativity figure of a shepherd holds a young lamb. Photo by Kathleen Barry, UMNS

Zoomed out? Tired of technology? Can't stand to look at a screen for one more minute? We get it.

This Advent, go back in time and engage with ancient spiritual practices designed to help you find more hope, peace, joy and love in your life.

Adventus: Ancient Practices for an Advent at Home includes five lessons: one for each week of Advent plus an extra lesson for Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Each session of Adventus (Latin for "coming" and the origin for the word Advent) follows the ancient monastic practice of Lectio Divina.

There are so many published Bible studies available at our fingertips. The most common studies requested from the conference Resource Center feature an “expert” teaching about the Bible while we follow along with a study guide or small group discussion. Through Adventus, we invite you into the ancient practice of Lectio Divina and ask you to invite the Holy Spirit to speak to you through meditative reading of scripture.

Lectio Divina is Latin for “divine reading.” This ancient practice was established in the 6th century by Saint Benedict of Nursia and provides a guided format for reading scripture. As you read each scripture lesson, you'll practice the following five steps or movements:

  • Lectio (Reading): What does the scripture say?
  • Meditatio (Meditation): What does the scripture say to me, specifically, today?
  • Oratio (Prayer): What do I say to God in response to this text?
  • Contemplatio (Contemplation): What is God asking of me through this scripture?
  • Actio (Action): What am I going to do in light of this scripture and meditation?

Each lesson also includes an Ad Libitum Actio, or optional activity. These are additional ancient practices that can enhance your spiritual life throughout the Advent season.

This study was designed to be utilized in a variety of settings:

  • For individuals: Follow the prompts, as is. You can simply reflect upon your answers to questions/prompts throughout the study or use a journal to record your thoughts.
  • For small groups: Invite different individuals to read the scripture aloud at each step and engage in discussion using the questions/prompts throughout the study.
  • For families: Depending on children’s ages, you can follow the above recommendations for small groups. If you have younger children, you might need to read the scripture for them. Use the scripture lessons provided in this study or utilize a child’s Bible or Bible storybook.

Ready to get started? Download the Adventus study!

One of the spiritual practices in Adventus is about music, so the Western North Carolina Annual Conference created these Spotify playlists with songs to accompany you on the journey this Advent and Christmas.

Originally published by the Western North Carolina Annual Conference November 2020. Republished with permission by