This Sunday begins the season of Advent. Advent is a Latin word that means the coming. At Christmas, we celebrate Christ’s first coming at the incarnation. Advent creates anticipation and longing. Our sermon series this Advent season is Ancient Christmas. In this series, we will look at the prophecies and foretellings of the Redeemer coming to save God’s people. As we begin in Genesis and work our way through the Old Testament, the anticipation will build as we approach Christmas Day!
This anticipation and longing is an appropriate theme for 2020. Caroline Cobb wrote a wonderful article on the Gospel Coalition website this week called 2020 Has Felt Like Advent All Year. I highly encourage you to read the article. In it she wrote: Eugene Peterson once said, “A person has to get fed up with the ways of the world before he, before she, acquires an appetite for the world of grace.” If we let it, 2020 can whet our appetite for the kingdom of God and for Jesus, her glorious King.
Let me encourage you and your family for Advent, to take some time to reflect on the incarnation of Christ. Might I suggest three ways you can do that: you can sing, you can read, and worship.
First, Advent is a great time to sing and listen to music that reminds us of the joy and wonder of Christmas. The Amazon Alexa has been working overtime in our home playing the sounds of Christmas. It is a great way to draw your heart and your mind toward the Savior and what God has done in the wonder of Christmas and sing!
John Summers shared the following with the Builders Sunday School class this past week that drives home this point of music and Christmas. I recently went through Augustine’s “Confessions” with a group of men in our presbytery. Among the many things Augustine discusses in the work, he muses about the role of beauty in the Christian life, specifically in relation to church music. While Augustine was fearful of excesses which might lead Christians to worship the beauty itself instead of the Lord who gave the beauty (a danger that remains with us), he was very ready to acknowledge that true words can enhance the devotion of worship if they are combined with beautiful, tasteful music. In fact, wherever we see and enjoy beauty, we ought to bow down in worship to the God who gave it.
The approach of the advent season always awakens in me a sense of foretaste of divine glory. The combination of worship, feasting with good food, the sacrament, communion with brothers and sisters (and earthly family), singing, music, connection with history, and general mirth all point to everlasting glory, as every single one of these aspects of advent are used in the Bible to describe future joy in Christ.
To that end, if you are looking for some good Christmas music/beauty to awaken your own spirit into worship during advent, I offer you the following: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IxgBirZx_VE
This is Vaughn Williams’ “Fantasia on Christmas Carols” and is about 12 minutes. Williams takes us, both in word and music, through the fall of man, the incarnation of Christ, and into advent celebration among Christians – which is really a celebration of Christ’s future, second advent into this world. For my own part, the combination of Williams’ music with King’s College Choir singing in King’s College Chapel, Cambridge, makes me seriously ready for joyous advent worship and feasting.
Another thing you can do to prepare your heart for Advent is read. Let me encourage you and your family to make a plan now to read and meditate on the wonderful themes of Christmas. There are some great books and devotionals out there to help you do that. The PCA Bookstore has a wonderful collection of resources – click here! My family has really enjoyed The Advent Jesse Tree.
Finally, I think the absolute best thing you can do during the Advent season is worship! And by that I mean attend corporate worship. I know that we are still in the midst of a pandemic and I know the virus is still raging, but I also believe we have created a safe place for us to gather on Sundays during two services in two different spaces. If you are sick and in the vulnerable category, then I encourage you to stay home and watch the service online. We know you are with us in spirit! Otherwise, we miss you! We need to be together as the body of Christ!
I look forward to seeing you Sunday and celebrating Advent!
By His grace and to His praise,
|Preparation for Worship – November 29, 2020|
This Sunday’s sermon: “Ancient Christmas: The Seed” – Genesis 3:1-21
Click here for this week’s bulletin.
In preparation for the sermon: She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins. (Matthew 1:21 ESV)
Hymn of the week:Joy Has Dawned
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