Skip to main content

We Did Not Forget Advent.

The other night I drove to church for a meeting and this caught my attention:

Now, this was 40 days before Christmas, and a week before Thanksgiving. But this house in our neighborhood was ready to go. My first reaction was shock, but it quickly turned to a sense of warmth. I thought perhaps this family was sending the rest of us a message: Let's move on from all the tough feelings after the exhausting election. Let's experience some joy instead. Right on.

But you'll notice this Sunday that Grace isn't quite ready for Christmas. November 27 is the first Sunday of Advent, the four weeks leading up to Christmas, but the season of Christmas does not begin until December 25 (or 24th). It then continues for twelve days. Advent and Christmas are not the same thing-- they don't even have the same liturgical colors (purple and white, respectively). But many, probably most, churches blend them together. In our worship planning team a few months ago, we decided to wait a couple of weeks before decorating for Christmas.

Waiting, after all, is what Advent is all about. Anticipation. Preparation. Advent was once thought of in the same way we think about Lent; instead of a season of self-examination before Easter it was applied to Christmas. The scriptures speak of unfulfilled promises. But in our rush to Christmas we have lost the spiritual discipline of waiting. Like the culture around us, we have rushed on to the next thing instead of delighting in the moment. There's a reason why it's so shocking to see Christmas decorations up in the stores before the proper time-- why don't we feel the same way about churches?

So for a couple of Sundays I invite you to wait. Christmas will come, I promise, and it will be joyful and exciting. Join us for the Hanging of the Greens, decorating the church for Christmas, on the afternoon of Sunday December 4. The choir will offer wonderful Christmas music on December 11, the first Sunday the Celebration Center will be decorated. How amazing will that be?? Your first visual moment of "Behold!" followed by an audio moment of "Behold!" Then we'll have three distinct, but each meaningful, services on Christmas Eve:

  • Children's/Family service at 4:00
  • Traditional worship with candlelight and communion at 7:00
  • Blended worship with candlelight and communion at 11:00
Plus on Christmas Day and New Year's Day, both on Sundays this year, we'll have one service only, 11:00, to celebrate our unity and the holiness of the season together.

But before all that good stuff happens, I invite you to wait. Join me for a special Bible study for Advent, "The Birth of the Messiah," where we'll study the infancy narratives and images from Christian art: Wednesdays, 5:30-7:00 p.m., November 30 and December 7 & 14. 

I know waiting is not fun. How many times have you sat in a waiting room at a hospital or doctor's office and thought, "This is the most amazing place ever!!" I get it. But trust in the Church's ancient practices. Listen to God's promises. And live into hope. 


Popular posts from this blog

Reflecting Upon Newtown

Note: I offered these words during the prayer section of worship Sunday, December 16.

Last Friday was a day full of surprising ministry. After I wrote my usual Friday email devotion to the church, I received a call from Byron Proutt, our missions coordinator. He and others had recently partnered with Park Cities Presbyterian on a project, and their missions director called Byron to say another ministry was unable to pick up several boxes of food for their pantry—could we use it? Of course we could! So Pastor Gregg, Mr Johnny, and I rolled out to the warehouse and hauled back 80 boxes of food. Praise God! After we unloaded it Gregg and I went to Kroger to give them a letter of appreciation for making our Thanksgiving baskets for hungry families a priority. After I dropped Gregg off at home, I turned on my radio for the first time that day and heard the reports of the shootings in Newtown, Conn. I could not believe what I heard, especially as a father of young children.

I came back to m…

The Famous Black Cat Band

This week my former high school band director, Mr Reinke, died. Mr Reinke is a legend in my hometown of Bay City. He was the leader of our Black Cat Band for many years. He was a fiery man, a perfectionist with extremely high standards. He was a gifted musician. He and I both played the trombone; one of us sounded like a goose being strangled. The other sounded like... well I can't think of a metaphor to properly describe Mr Reinke's horn. It was amazing. He would pull that thing out occasionally to show us how to properly play a part of a song and the sound was spellbinding. 
Mr Reinke was very innovative in his music selections. He had us playing the most random music, from popular stuff of the day by Michael Jackson to Also Sprach Zarathustra (popularly known as the theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey) to Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody. This song in particular was a great choice-- it's amazing, complicated; however, this was the late 1980s. The song was originally released…

a response to gideons international

last sunday prosper united methodist church welcomed representatives of the gideons to share about their ministry. how many times have you stayed in a hotel or visited someone in the hospital and found a gideons Bible there? and while no one can argue that reading the Bible is a bad thing, or that distributing Bibles to others in native languages is inherently harmful, i would like to offer some thoughts on the practices of the gideons, as they were described at church.

1. bravo to the gideons for distributing 73 million Bibles last year. however, most of the Bibles they sent were tiny new testaments with psalms. i am a Christian, and i love the words of the new testament. but those words have their foundation in the old testament, and to remove thousands of years of traditions and stories of God's powerful love and acts of salvation diminishes the power of the whole Bible. we must never forget that the old testament (or "first" testament or "hebrew Bible"…