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.
We worship God from a place of peace. Because my heart is at peace with God, I can approach Him confidently, boldly, assured of His love and care for me.
Does your relationship to God have barriers because you have been affected…scarred, even, from the evil of the world? Rest knowing that we are anchored in Christ; things of this world will affect us but do not deeply shake or destroy us. We mourn over evil, but we also keep pressing on boldly, victoriously, rejoicing in peace!
This makes the carol especially apt for Advent. In the weeks leading up to Christmas, we put ourselves in the shoes of Zechariah, Elizabeth, Simeon, and all the pre-Christian saints. We ponder the promises. We strain to see the dawn of salvation. But we know that when it comes, the waiting will not be over.
When Emmanuel arrives — when the Day-spring rises — we learn that redemption has only begun. To be sure, it is a magnificent only. The final blood is shed. The debt is paid. Forgiveness is purchased. God’s wrath is removed. Adoption is secured. The down-payment is in the bank. The first-fruits of harvest are in the barn. The future is sure. The joy is great. But the end is not yet…
One year ago I wrote an article entitled “This is not how it should be.”The basic idea is this: the world, as we know it, is not the way it should be. Violence, conflict and injustice are painfully widespread, and there seems to be no end in sight. Some people are content to say, “that’s just how the world is.” My contention is that from God’s perspective “this is NOT how it should be.”
For those familiar with the liturgical calendar, the four weeks prior to Christmas are known as the season of Advent. A common practice in churches and homes during Advent is the progressive lighting of four candles – one per week, three purple and one pink – as a symbol of expectation for God’s presence on earth. On the first, second, and fourth Sundays in Advent, a purple candle is lit. On the third Sunday, (yes, on the third Sunday), a pink candle is lit.
Lighting a pink candle on the third Sunday in Advent tends to be one of the more ambiguous liturgical practices of the church. Not many people know the purpose or history of the pink candle. Two questions I commonly hear are, “Why is there a pink candle in the midst of three purple candles in the Advent wreath?” and “Why is the pink candle lit on the third Sunday and not the fourth?”