Skip to Main Content

Searching for Advent

Into the winter darkness Advent dawns, and we begin to see. God’s incarnation breaks like light into our shadowed world, arrives enfleshed: Jesus.  “Prepare a way for God to come among us,” the prophets cry, “Raise all things cast down, make new what has grown old. Reconcile all earthly things in Him.”

Our diocesan Christian Formation Task Force invites you to explore the dawning of Christ in your life through many events and resources available to The Episcopal Church in East Tennessee. We invite you to use them for formation, spiritual development, and personal devotion as well as for companionship on our journey to Bethlehem. Many of these resources are free and available for use from home. 

Especially because the faithful are dispersed this year by the pandemic, we hope you can join others in our parishes and worshiping communities for retreat, worship, prayer, and formation. May you look to the light-tinged horizons where God’s love, justice, and peace are already working: in our lives, our homes, our communities. Expect the glory of the Lord to be revealed.

Invitation to Participate


  • Ways to Celebrate Advent
    • Start December 1st and read a chapter of the book of Luke each day – there are 24 chapters – on Christmas Eve you will have read an entire account of Jesus’s life and wake up Christmas morning knowing who and why we celebrate
    • Create a seasonal silence by watching a minimum of TV, listen to quiet music, sit outside, or take a walk on a clear night and watch the stars
    • Decorate cookies with stars instead of Santa Claus
    • Leave the Christmas tree bare except for white lights until Christmas Eve or the last week before Christmas; hang the stockings up on Christmas Eve, too; then leave decorations up for the 12 days of Christmas, taking them down and putting them away only after Epiphany
    • Tie a purple ribbon around the wreath on the door, change it to red and gold on Christmas Eve
    • Set out the empty crèche and add figures each week until the holy family appears on Christmas Eve, and the wise men appear on Epiphany
    • Create an Advent wreath and candles
    • Follow an Advent calendar
    • Attend special services for those who’ve lost loved ones
    • Ten Ideas to See You Through The Holidays, from Episcopal Church Foundation Vital Practices
    • Checkout one of the events, retreats, worship opportunities, kits, activities, calendars, books, blogs, podcasts, movies, music, or art listed below
  • Events & Retreats

    2021 Women’s Christmas Retreat: Women’s Christmas

    Jan Richardson–artist, poet, Methodist minister, offers  “What the Light Shines Through,” a retreat whose readings, art, questions, and blessings invite us into mending, restoration, and healing. This PDF can be used anytime, alone or with friends. Free.

    St. Paul’s A Home Advent Quiet Day

    This quiet day based on the lections for Advent II will explore God’s peace, and how this peace not only heals and comforts us, but also disrupts and challenges us.  Us this PDF to guide your own quiet day at home.

    Virtual Advent Pilgrimage

    A virtual journey following the footsteps of Jesus, in the Gospel of Luke — from Mary’s annunciation to Jesus’ transfiguration on the mount.  Hosted by St. Martins-in-the-Fields Episcopal Church.  Walk at your own pace, in your own neighborhood, but be transported to a whole different time and world through meditations, scripture, and special bonus videos along the way.  Log your miles to unlock “milestones” along the path which teach you about  the landscape, the place, scripture, and perhaps help you reflect on your own place in the story.

  • Worship

    Virtual Preaching Monks

    This Advent season, TryTank has partnered with the monks of the Society of Saint John the Evangelist to produce a new resource aimed particularly at smaller congregations (though any congregation can use it). From Christ the King Sunday to Christmas Day, they have six sermons available online, each about 12 minutes long. They are based on the Sunday lectionary and have also been paired with an adult forum curriculum.

    A Service of Light Liturgy Example

    In 2019, St Timothy’s, Signal Mountain, held a service of light especially for those who have lost someone they love to prepare for Christmas.  This liturgy is moving and meaningful for so many.  This PDF is from the previous service so that you can create your own.

    Advent and Christmas Digital Invitation Kits

    Find digital and printable resources themed for Advent and Christmas here, to help promote special Advent and Christmas events or explain the season itself on social media, your website, or around town. Posters, fliers, postcards, and more are available in English, Spanish, and French.

  • Kits & Calendars

    Praying in Color

    Praying in Color has helpful print-at-home/print-at-church calendars and color pages. Kids of all ages are sure to have fun while entering the grounding practice of color (both in and outside the lines).

    Practical Ways to Celebrate Advent in the Home

    The Rev Claire Keene provided this PDF list of varied suggestions for individuals and families to celebrate Advent in their home.

    Rend the Heavens – An Advent Study of Isaiah

    The Rev Claire Brown and St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Chattanooga have shared their guide for studying Isaiah and Advent.  Use this PDF to follow along as an individual, family, or small group.

  • Books & Blogs

    Advent in Narnia: Reflections for the Season, by The Rev. Heidi Haverkamp

    “Walking into Advent can be like walking through the wardrobe.”  C. S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe fits naturally into the Advent season.  These 28 devotions alternate between scripture and passages from the novel to prompt meditation on Advent themes.  Each devotion also includes questions for reflection.  The book provides several resources for churches, small group discussion, and ideas for creating a “Narnia Night” for families.

    Awaiting the Child: An Advent Journal, by Isabel Anders

    “The season of Advent offers us, each year, an opportunity to seek God within the geography of our souls―while living outwardly amid the roar and tumult of worldly events”

    Christmastide: Prayers for Advent Through Epiphany from The Divine Hours, Phyllis Tickle

    The third and final volume in a trilogy of prayer manuals compiled by Publishers Weekly religion editor Phyllis Tickle as a contemporary Book of Hours to guide Christians gently yet authoritatively through the daily offices.

    I Am Mary: Advent Devotional, by Carol Howard Merritt

    In this Advent devotional, join young Mary as she experiences the surprise, confusion, fear, anticipation, and blessing that follows her brave response to God’s call: “Here am I, Lord.” Listen carefully, and you may hear that call in your own life. From the first Sunday of Advent through Christmas Day, each daily devotion includes a scripture verse, a reflection, and a prayer, plus an Advent candle lighting service as a free download.

    Keep Watch With Me: An Advent Reader for Peacemakers, by Claire Brown & Michael T McRay

    Co-author, Claire Brown, serves as clergy in our own diocese, for St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Chattanooga, TN.  Each day of Advent is guided by a different author providing a text, a reflection, a prayer, and a practice as well as a brief bio. Brian McLaren says, “[he] can’t imagine a more meaningful, interesting, spiritually enriching, and relevant Advent resource”.

    Kneeling in Bethlehem, by Ann Weems

    A lovely collection of poems for the Advent season

    Light of the World: A Beginner’s Guide to Advent, by Amy Jill Levine, andLight of the World: Leader’s Guide

    Author, professor, and biblical scholar Amy-Jill Levine explores the biblical texts surrounding the story of the birth of Jesus. Join her as she traces the Christmas narrative through the stories of Zechariah and Elizabeth, Mary, the journey to Bethlehem, and the visit from the Magi.

    Materiality as Resistance: Five Elements for Moral Action in the Real World, by Walter Brueggemann

    In a season of preparing for the Word to be made flesh so that God’s reign comes on earth, Bruegemann’s thoughts offer us ways to expect and to live the kingdom now, congruent with Mary’s Magnificat– lifting up the lowly, filling the hungry with good things, remembering mercy, enfleshing our Lord’s prayer to live “on earth as it is in heaven.”

    Night Visions: Searching the Shadows of Advent and Christmas, by Jan Richardson

    Jan Richardson’s original artwork, reflections, poetry, and prayers draw the reader into the quiet spaces of an often-frenzied season. Beautifully designed with color artwork throughout, Night Visions beckons us to encounter the God who dwells in darkness as well as in daylight.

    Not a Silent Night: Mary Looks to Bethlehem, by Adam Hamilton

    This Advent study begins at the end, with Mary at the Crucifixion and Resurrection, travels back in time as she witnesses Jesus’ life and ministry, and ends with the birth of Jesus through a book, accompanying DVD, a guide for leaders, and a youth study guide.

    Our Hope and Expectation: Devotions for Advent and Christmas 2020-2021

    by Paul Hoffman, Michael Coffey, Annabelle Markey, Rozella Haydée White, Troy M. Troftgruben, and Pam Fickenscher. Explore the Advent season, and celebrate the joy of the 12 days of Christmas and day of Epiphany. Our Hope and Expectation includes daily devotions based on year B scripture readings (in the Revised Common Lectionary) for Sundays and festival days between the first Sunday of Advent and Epiphany. In addition to devotions, the book offers household blessings and prayers to enrich your preparations and celebrations.

    Preparing for Christmas with Richard Rohr

    A pocket-sized booklet of daily meditations for Advent. Rohr invites readers not merely to prepare for the birth of Jesus on Christmas Day, but for the coming of the cosmic Christ, who brings the true kingdom of heaven to us on earth.

    The Irrational Season, by Madeleine L’Engle

    This memoir follows the liturgical year from one Advent to the next, with L’Engle reflecting on the changing seasons in her own life as a writer, wife, mother, and global citizen. Unafraid to discuss controversial topics and address challenging questions, L’Engle writes from the heart in this compelling chronicle of her spiritual quest to renew and refresh her faith in an ever-changing world and her ever-changing personhood. Originally published in 1977.

    The Painted Prayerbook, by Jan Richardson

    Meditations, art, and poetry. With original artwork by Jan Richardson, this blog explores the intersections of writing, art, and faith, plus a few other things besides. Its pages include a weekly reflection on a text from the lectionary (the three-year cycle of readings that take us through much of the Bible). These lectionary reflections emerge from a process of lectio divina (“sacred reading”), the ancient art of praying with sacred texts, including the text of our own life. The art pieces that appear with the weekly lectionary reflections are painted paper collages that Jan creates as part of the process of doing lectio with the texts.

    The Womb of Advent, by Mark Bozzuti-Jones

    The author offers a unique perspective on the season of Advent with scripture readings, prayers, 4 weeks of meditations that focus on the growth of Jesus in the womb of Mary as he approaches the day of his birth, learns his mother’s voice, responds to the presence of light and dark, and begins to position himself for birth. What does this teach us about our own spiritual journey through Advent? That waiting and preparation is essential to the Christian life. By reflecting on our own birth experiences and Jesus’s own progress through the womb, Christians learn how to remain intimate with God, how to approach the light, and how to get ready for new birth in Christ.  Church Publishing is providing a Free download until Jan 6, 2021.

    Through the Advent Door: Entering a Contemplative Christmas, by Jan Richardson

    Through the Advent Door reveals the hidden pathways into the holidays we have always longed for, guiding us into a realm that shimmers with mystery and imagination. Like an Advent calendar, each day opens a new door, offering rich treasures that beckon us deep into this sacred season.

    Waiting, Accepting, Journeying, and Birthing: A Four Week Advent Devotional, by Sarah Bessey

    Guided by the Carmelite themes of Waiting, Accepting, Journeying, and Birthing, this devotional from Sarah Bessey offers readers new prayers, scripture, original essays by yours truly, and reflection questions for each Sunday of Advent as we journey towards Christmas. It is available in various forms on her website.

    Waiting and Watching: Advent Word Reflections

    These reflections are part of a larger initiative called AdventWord, a global community praying and walking together during this holy season. The daily reflections include a response or action item and a prayer and each day features a doodling prompt by artist and Praying in Color author Sybil MacBeth for those who enjoy a hands-on approach to prayer.

    Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas

    Essays for Advent through Epiphany (includes Dorothy Day, C. S. Lewis, Oscar Romero, Philip Yancey, Eberhard Arnold, Johann Christoph Arnold, J. Heinrich Arnold, Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Alfred Delp, Søren Kierkegaard, Annie Dillard, Kathleen Norris and others)

    What Are You Waiting For?, by Christine McSpadden

    The author seeks to transfigure your experience of waiting.  Embark on a seasonal journey as these daily meditation work on your soul to bring a richer quality and depth to your understanding and perception of waiting as a lively and life-giving facet of faith.

    What the Heart Already Knows, by Phylis Tickle

    107 Pages published in 1985.  Phyllis Tickle, founding editor of the religion department at Publishers Weekly, is one of the most highly respected authorities and popular speakers on religion in America today. She is the author of more than two dozen books, a lector and lay eucharistic minister in the Episcopal Church, and a senior fellow of the Cathedral College of Washington National Cathedral.

  • Podcasts


    The #AdventWord 2021 podcast will be daily beginning November 29th. Available on Apple Podcasts or anywhere you listen to podcasts. Subscribe today!

  • Movies

    Babette’s Feast (1987) on IMDb

    During the late 19th century, a strict religious community in a Danish village takes in a French refugee from the Franco-Prussian War as a servant to the late pastor’s daughters.  It’s a wonderful “parable” of Jesus’ entrance into our world under dark, dreary, and dangerous circumstances, his becoming one of us, his self-sacrifice, his healing and bountiful feeding of us, his remaining with us.

    It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) on IMDB

    Also through Amazon Prime Video.  An angel is sent from Heaven to help a desperately frustrated businessman by showing him what life would have been like if he had never existed.

    The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (2005) on IMDB

    Also on Amazon Prime Video.  Four kids travel through a wardrobe to the land of Narnia and learn of their destiny to free it with the guidance of a mystical lion.

  • Music & Art

    Advent, Spotify Playlist by The Rev. Claire Brown

    Fifteen songs, for a total of 52 min 39 sec, including The Bengsons, Sean Colvin, Ben Harper, Sufjan Stevens, and more.  NOT Christmas songs, but Advent music for preparing for Christmas.

    Advent 2020: Hope, Love, Joy, and Peace, Spotify Playlist by Elizabeth Burns

    As of Dec 7 the playlist included 24 songs for a total of 1 hour and 30 minutes, with intentions of growing from recommendations throughout the Signal Mountain community and beyond.  Includes songs from Grateful Dead, Mumford and Sons, Dolly Pardon, and more.

    Advent Paintings and Poems: Gathering, Bearing, Wrestling, Praying, by Vikki Myers and Claire Keene

    Vikki Myers and Claire Keene pair art and poetry evocative of the struggles and graces of waiting as new life emerges.  Useful for personal or congregational times of quiet meditation through the weeks of waiting for the Coming One. These gifted ministers in our presence in East Tennessee have granted permission for you to print your own copies using this PDF.  They originally printed them as cards and shared with friends and family.

    Brother Andrew Aelred Morehead recommends the following musical selections because they match those of Advent or have a spareness that matches the tone of the season

    Kerygma Hallelujah: The Bible and Handel’s Messiah Bible Study

    10 Sessions, or 4 Advent & 6 Lent.  A study for both the music lover and the biblical seeker, it explores the scriptural texts of Handel’s Messiah. This study offers careful examination of the texts and opens doors to your community in a new way. With four sessions on the Advent texts and six sessions on the Lenten texts, it may be offered as two seasonal courses or as one ten-week course.  A recording of Messiah is recommended for class use: Kerygma offers the 2-CD Chicago Symphony version.

    Through the Advent Door: Entering a Contemplative Christmas, by Jan Richardson

    Through the Advent Door reveals the hidden pathways into the holidays we have always longed for, guiding us into a realm that shimmers with mystery and imagination. Like an Advent calendar, each day opens a new door, offering rich treasures that beckon us deep into this sacred season. Author and artist Jan Richardson accompanies us with images and reflections that are imbued with ancient stories, practices, and traditions.

    Waiting With Expectation and Hope: Advent 2020 – Spotify Playlist

    Music for the liturgical season of Advent as we wait with expectation and hope for the coming of Christ, selected by Lifelong Learning at Virginia Theological Seminary ( Not Christmas songs! 39 songs, 2 hr 22 min

  • Small Group Studies

    Journeying the Way of Love

    For the season of Advent, “Journeying the Way of Love” offers four sessions to be explored as we await the coming of Christ by moving through the first two chapters of the Gospel of Luke. The sessions are specially designed for use during the Christian formation hour. En Español. 

    To accompany the “Journeying the Way of Love” curriculum, use the Advent Calendar, which offers daily suggestions for engaging in the seven practices that encompass the Way of Love: turn, learn, pray, worship, bless, go, and rest. Use bulletin inserts from Sermons That Work to help your congregation participate in the “Journeying the Way of Love” Advent calendar.

    Advent Pilgrimage in Palestine

    Advent Pilgrimage in Palestine: a four-week virtual pilgrimage from the ELCA’s Peace Not Walls and Young Adult Ministry teams featuring young adult voices from the ELCA and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land.

    Join us this Advent Season on the WAY to Bethlehem: Prepare, Journey, Arrive, Witness

    What is “the way to Bethlehem,” as Advent practice, and as Christian engagement in Palestine? What does it mean for us as Christians, and for the church, to be called to resist the injustice of “the way things are” in favor of following the disruptive and transformative way of the Lord? What does it mean for us to be “on the way”?

Advent Godly Play

Kathleen Crevasse, Director of Christian Formation, leads us through an Advent Godly Play set, letting us explore and wander our way to Bethlehem. This is a great resource for adults and children alike.


Brief videos from members of the diocesan staff and Christian Formation Task Force, recommending one of the many resources available.

Bishop Brian

Caroline Vogel

Michele Simmons

Beverly Hurley Hill

Claire Keene

Claire Brown

Kathleen Crevasse

More Resources?

If you have a favorite Advent resource that you would like to share with all of the good people of the Episcopal Church in East Tennessee, especially online opportunities to engage and connect with others, please contact Brother Andrew Aelred Morehead at or Canon Beverly Hurley Hill at

If you have general questions about the events and resources, you can contact a member of the Christian Formation Task Force:

Ms Kathleen Crevasse                Mr Sean McEwen

Mr Jody Davis              Brother Andrew Aelred Morehead

Canon Beverly Hurley Hill           The Rev Michele Simmons

The Rev Claire Keene                The Rev Caroline Vogel

For specific details, please contact the source of the event or resource.