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.
Christmas season is a busy time, especially for a church music ministry. There are new seasonal songs to learn, programs to produce, extra rehearsals to attend, plus Christmas Eve and other special events. All of this is in addition to your other life responsibilities.
The pressure-to-perform can be stressful. The sheer volume of “busyness” can deplete your physical energy. You end up feeling overwhelmed, worn out, distracted and even disconnected from God.
Not only is this unhealthy, but it’s antithetical to the reason for the season!
Ideally, the spiritual practices of Advent offer us an opportunity to hit the reset button and receive refreshing from the Lord.
But how do you do that, practically speaking?
That meant that I would do extraordinary things, from making sure lonely people in our congregation received a small gift every day during Advent so they would feel loved, to organizing a drama with multiple practices to make sure those in the congregation got the meaning of the holiday. The result was exhaustion for me and those I recruited to help with my frenzy of activity. I also began to dread the holidays and wish they were over before they even began.
Over the years, I’ve learned how to keep what is meaningful while letting go of things that were merely depleting my energy—and everyone else’s energy. Three things helped me do that…
I was in my twenties before I was introduced to the tradition of Advent, and it frankly did not have much appeal right away. What was the value of four weeks of longing and expectation? It seems so contradictory to the prevailing atmosphere of festive, cheery glow in the shopping malls.
But I have grown to love Advent. And though it is not a mandated observance in Scripture, there are profitable reasons to consider making Advent part of your holiday rhythm. Here are seven potential benefits of observing Advent.
Have you ever tried to truly wrap your head around what it might have been like for the jews anticipating the messiah. Can you imagine your whole life being told that a savior was coming who would put an end to all the governments and people groups that reeked havoc on your people. A season of waiting that had gone on for generations must have felt like it would never come…
They waited in uncertainty for a messiah and it must have been easy to doubt. I can imagine that many would have forgotten to care. The sense of urgency was gone and the complacency with whatever life has dealt them sank in.
Then one day God interrupted time…
I was confused when my first Christmas after I got married made me weep.
My new husband and I were in Ojai, an idyllic small town on the California coast. I’d enjoyed my new in-laws’ gracious hospitality, opened up gifts on Christmas Eve, and now, waited to go to the midnight Christmas jazz service my musician father-in-law led.
But instead of chatting with everyone, I snuck off to the spare bedroom. I told myself I just wanted to be alone for a minute.
However, when I got into the bedroom and shut the door, I started to weep.
It’s unsettling to sob when you’re not sure what you’re sad about. I wracked my brain for a reason…