With Advent almost over and Christmas just around the corner, here are some resources for Advent that you may find helpful in your service planning and personal worship.
“O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” is one of my favorite carols and is particularly appropriate to sing in the weeks leading up to Christmas. It’s an ancient song, originally written in Latin in the eighth century as a seven verse poem, organized into a reverse acrostic which can be translated “I shall be with you tomorrow.” The refrain was added later. Each of the verses we have in our hymnals (usually just five) focus on one of Christ’s names or titles: Emmanuel, Adonai, Rod of Jesse, Dayspring or Morning Star, and Key of David.
Let’s walk through this. Feel free to hum along with me.
But the massive effort is part of what makes Advent one of my favorite times of year. I aim to enjoy every minute of the special services and wholeheartedly participate in worship…
We all have extra events in December. Whether for work, school, church, or the community, seasonal social opportunities keep us occupied. We assume everyone is “crazy busy.” It’s a noisy season, one of music and cheer.
To enjoy the season to its fullest, then, one of the most significant disciplines we can practice both individually and corporately is “Christ-centered silence.”
The Christian year is a beautiful tool for helping worship become formational in the lives of believers. This Advent, consider how you might help your congregation engage in the discipline of waiting. Here are a few suggested practices to consider employing in your services in the hope that the celebration of Christmas might be all the richer because time has been spent awaiting and intentionally anticipating Christ…
If you grew up like me, you grew up in a home that did a great job of celebrating the birth of Jesus each year, but without much liturgy. I didn’t grow up in a liturgical church so it should be no surprise that liturgy wasn’t a part of our our celebrations. In fact, I didn’t really know what Advent was until I was a worship pastor at a church and my lead pastor said we should have Advent candles in our services this season. I said, absolutely…then quickly googled “advent candles”.
Since that time I have a better understanding of Advent. For those of you who grew up like me, let me take a moment to give you some basics.
As worship leaders, Advent gives us the amazing opportunity to help our people look up from the shards of our own broken promises and unfulfilled desires to see the only one who always keeps his promises and fulfills every desire perfectly.
We have the distinct honor of leading the church in acknowledging our own frailty, while pointing to God’s sufficiency. We lift eyes from self to Jesus, who came in humility and will come again in victory to make all things new. In the midst of the season’s hustle and bustle, we are pointing people to him. And it starts with us looking at him ourselves.