With Advent underway and Christmas just around the corner, here are some resources for Advent that you may find helpful in your service planning and personal worship.
The season of four weeks during the longest nights of the year to prepare for the incarnation of love in the past, in the present, and in the future. It is called the season of watching and waiting, and it is set in the midst of what is also called the “Christmas Rush.” It’s the oxymoron of theology as we are called to get busy and sit still.
Every Christmas season I get really excited for Christmas music to begin playing. The many versions of “Mary Did You Know?”, “Silent Night,” and the crowd pleaser, “Little Drummer Boy,” float around as we shop for Christmas presents, drive in holiday traffic, and sit in coffee shops drinking our caffeine kick of choice. The second Sunday of Advent, I was sitting in the church pew, minding my business and listening to the music float around me, when the words to “O Holy Night” suddenly became clearer to me than ever before.
And despite the fact that the heavens seemed impregnable and silent, there was hope—hope of deliverance, hope of reconciliation, hope in a reversal of power and fortune. But it was the hope of the occupied, the despondent, the . . . hopeless. Jesus’ birth didn’t change everything, or at least not in the way they were expecting, and not immediately. In fact, we’re still waiting for the reconciliation of all things. We’re still waiting for transformation. We’re still waiting for a deliverer. We’re still waiting for salvation.
In my heart I’m an introvert. I know how to be with people, how to get my oar in during conversations at a party, how to do a “meet and greet at church.” But I get my energy from being alone and silence is my reward… And in the end, that is how I take the Christmas carol, Silent Night. Not silent because the animals really were, or the angels lost their voice. But the song sings of a silent night because the story of Jesus’ birth takes our breath away.
Nativity scenes… are fine, in my opinion. But they are rooted in conjecture, misunderstanding first-century culture, the meaning of a couple of Greek words, and just about everything else the Bible says about the setting, scene, and circumstances surrounding the birth of Jesus. In the form of a quiz that I gave my son today (with a bit of elaboration by me) consider ten questions (and answers) about the birth of Jesus, and see if embracing another idea about Jesus’ birth doesn’t give you even more cause to praise God for the incarnation.