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Archives: Advent & Christmas Features

“Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus” is a prayer we can enter into during Advent and throughout the year. Image by Kathryn Price, United Methodist Communications.

“Born to set thy people free:” A Christmas hymn devotion

Charles Wesley’s Advent song “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus” is a prayer for Jesus to come into history, into our lives, and into our world. Read More

Nativity set and sheet music for

Christmas carols: “Above all sing spiritually”

They feature lyrics you've sung all your life, but do you know the real story behind your favorite Christmas hymns? More

The magi follow the star in this sixth-century mosaic at the Basilica of Sant'Apollinare near Ravenna, Italy. Photo by Nina-no, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

What was the star of Bethlehem?

Some astronomers have speculated it was a planetary conjunction, a nova or some other celestial body. Nick Strobel has his own ideas. Read More

Kevin John “Kejo” Maddela stands with another youth leader at Christmas Institute 2012 in the Philippines. Photo courtesy of Kevin John Maddela.

Philippines’ Christmas Institute helps youth find gifts

Young people spend the days after Christmas in a retreat geared just for them. “It is a remake of the heart-warming experience of John Wesley.” More

Erlöserkirche United Methodist Church in Bremen, Germany welcomed refugees to weekly gatherings that included a meal together. Photo courtesy of Bishop Rosemarie Wenner.

Welcoming the stranger: Lessons from the refugee crisis in Europe

Seeing strangers from seven nations become friends over a meal has been one of many blessings received by those reaching out to refugees. Read More

The image of Mary, the mother of Jesus, has resonance around the world. From left, here are Persian, Byzantine and Kenyan depictions of the woman who has lessons for disciples today. Photo illustration by Kathleen Barry, United Methodist Communications

Words of wisdom from mother Mary

With great faith, Christ’s mother challenged social expectations. She offers lessons for our Christian witness today. Read More

Christmas decorations, like this simple nativity scene, help us celebrate the season. Photo by Freely Photos.

Celebrate the season: 12 ideas for the 12 days of Christmas

December 25th is not the end, but the time to begin celebrating Jesus' birth. Make the season more meaningful with creative, yet simple, ideas. Read More

What makes a meaning-full gift? It’s care, not cost

Want ideas for an unforgettable present this Christmas? United Methodists talk about their most memorable gifts. Read More

Screen grab from video. Nativity figure courtesy of First United Methodist Church in Tullahoma, TN.

Nativity scenes: More than meets the eye

The figures in that familiar Christmas decoration offer faith lessons, too. Learn about the symbolism in the creche. More

The archangel Gabriel kneels, raising his right hand in greeting to Mary and indicating her divine pregnancy. Painting of The Annunciation by Leonardo da Vinci, circa 1472.  Painting by Leonardo da Vinci (public domain), courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Angels among us: God’s heavenly messengers for the world

Angels are prominent in the Christmas story, and elsewhere in scripture. Their example shows us how to live on earth as they do in heaven. Read More

A Nativity set featuring a coconut stable or shelter and figures hand-made from clay, purchased during JoAnn Hall’s first mission trip to Haiti. Photo by JoAnn Hall.

Ready for Christmas? Tips to keep the holiday season holy

Advent can be a busy time, but there are things you can do to keep your heart and mind on Christ. Read More

JoAnn Hall's favorite Nativity set purchased during her first mission trip to Haiti. Photo by JoAnn Hall.

United Methodists share stories of beloved Nativity scenes

From handmade figures from Haiti to porcelain figures guarded by a young boy's toy soldiers, favorite family Nativity scenes display a personal touch. Read More

Candles set a reflective mood for Advent. Photo by Kathleen Barry, United Methodist News Service.

Rethink Christmas: More joy, less stress

Tips for being ‘in the present,’ more focused on others and for worrying less this holiday season. Read More

A candle burns during a service. Photograph by Angelia Sims of Angelia's Photography.

Sad at Christmas? Advice for coping with holiday blues

'Tis the season we feel pressure to be jolly, but what if we’re not? United Methodist pastors and counselors offer ways to deal with being down. Read More

Advent Quiz llustration by Cindy Caldwell

Advent Quiz: Test your knowledge of the season (2014)

Get a new question daily as we explore traditions and symbols of the season. And share the quiz with others! More

Lessons from Joseph, Jesus’ ‘old man’

He was an adoptive father, a heeder of dreams and faithful. “Joseph chose to take a risk for God... an example we can all follow.” Read More

Modern-day shepherd Glen Fisher keeps a watchful eye on his flock.  Photos courtesy of the American Sheep Industry Association.

Shepherd of today relates to nativity

Glen Fisher has watched over flocks for more than 30 years. He delights that those in his profession were among the first to hear the good news. Read More

Home for Christmas? Not for border families

For those torn apart by immigration issues, the wire mesh fence between the U.S. and Mexico is the site of tears and 'communion.' Read More

Christmas giving blesses giver, receiver

At United Methodist alternative-giving markets, shoppers find that compassion, not consumerism, is the best way to honor the Christ-child. Read More

Ed Metzler and his wife, Erma distributed $50 worth of $1 and $5 bills Dec. 21 at a Goodwill Store as part of a Christmas outreach. Photo by Dan Gangler, Indiana Annual Conference

United Methodists reach out at Christmas

In diverse ways, congregations, conference employees and others shared resources, time and talents to brighten holiday for others. Read More

Photo by malerapaso / iStockphoto.com

Alternative take on the ‘12 Days of Christmas’

"True love" refers to God and "eight maids a-milking" refer to the beatitudes. New lyrics give us a dozen ways to be more giving. Read More

Photo by Andrejs Zemdega/iStockPhoto.com.

Givers pick compassion over consumerism

Churches offer ways for people of good conscience to buy gifts that support people who are struggling and in need. Read More

Logo courtesy of Advent Conspiracy

Presents or Presence? Gifts that Matter

How can we use the holidays to worship God more fully? What if we spend less, but give more? Read More