Time of Preparation

Worship Music Leaders are busy folks right now!  I know you guys and gals are engulfed in preparations for Christmas music presentations as well you should be.  Tis the season!  Whether singing Christmas trees, Christmas dinner theaters, children’s programs, or services of lessons and carols.it all takes lots of time to prepare; selection, planning, enlistment, rehearsal, staging, etc., etc.  While preparing for what’s next, don’t miss what’s now.


Sunday was the beginning of the season of Advent (Adventus which means “coming”). Many worshiping churches are recognizing this season as part of and/or preparation for the celebration of Christmas.  While some church leaders are unable to see past previous associations of Roman Catholic associations, I find more and more Baptists reclaiming Advent as part of their worship in the weeks preceding December 25.  As with any worship practice, I would pray that we worship leaders would be diligent to explore the rich meaning of Advent so as to observe it as disciples and disciple-makers.


Having just completed the Thanksgiving season, I have been reminded how much we reminisce during our preparation for a holiday.  Ebbie fixes food items that have been on the family Thanksgiving menu for many years.  We have incorporated some from her family and some from mine and now even some from our children’s spouses’ families. We even have recipes that have been handwritten by our parents and grandparents.  Ebbie has recipes that call for “a pat of butter the size of a hen’s egg.”  We laugh every year at that recipe from her “Meemaw.”  Preparing those dishes stirs up memories that bring us joy, laughter, and longing for loved ones.  When we set the table we recall where those who are no longer with us would have set had they still been living on earth.  We make comments that we credit to remarks that those loved ones would have made were they still with us.  Such memory recall is part of the feast, but also part of the preparation and anticipation of when we will gather with family and recount days gone by while dreaming about days to come when the grandchildren will be teenagers (yikes!) and when visions will be realized.


Advent helps remind us that God is the Creator of time, stepped into time, and that our pattern of singing, preaching, worshiping and witnessing all take place in the time He has given to us in which we live.  Advent is a wonderful opportunity to help your congregation remember that which has been, while keeping in tension that which is to come.  As we repeat seasonal practices our reminders will include the significance of memories rooted in those practices themselves, but we must always keep in perspective  “the reason for the season” as we say.  Granted, that phrase has become cliché yet it is true.  We need to recount the prophesies and help the church regain perspective of a hunger for the Messiah.  As part of this recollection, Advent can help draw the church’s attention to the act of preparation itself as  a broader application.  For instance, themes such as the certainty of death, judgment, heaven and hell can be applied.  Preparation must be made in life for these realities.  Such somber reminders can enhance the sense of true joy at Christmastime when we celebrate that a Savior has come to the world in Jesus, Emmanuel, born in a manger.


Advent is also a time of the “not yet,” as we focus on the assurance of His coming again. In the face of atheists’ emphasis that the Nativity is myth, we must boldly proclaim the Truth of Gospel and demonstrate our full-hearted belief that Christ has come.  That belief can be richly expressed in song!  Numerous indicators declare that people hear more Christian lyric during the season leading to Christmas than any other time of the year.  Evangelistic effort lies at your doorstep, worship music leader.  But faith declaration does not end with our claim that we believe that a historical even occurred in Bethlehem.  Advent worship must also declare boldly that we live as those in whom “Christ is born, Emmanuel.”  The full truth of Gospel worship goes on to tell the full story that not only do we trust Him for past and present, but that we wholeheartedly believe that He will return!  A Methodist theologian says “If the Creator’s saving purpose accommodates itself to time and history in these ways, it is entirely appropriate to commemorate, celebrate, and anticipate it in the temporal symbolism that the church’s calendar represents.”


Worship music leaders, for us this likely primarily means that we select and order music in such a manner as to retell the story, call attention to His active presence, and encourage faith for the certainty of His return. I encourage you to practice your craft, noting lyrical and musical means by which composers and authors have expressed Advent Truth for years and years, and still do so today.  In fact, if you will look closely in much Christmas music you will see these elements included.  Consider the plaintive melodies to which some Advent texts have been assigned.  Consider the joyous play of Christmas carols that not only declare His praise, but hold faith in His return.  As worship leader you have golden opportunity to bring them into focus for your people as they hear them, sing them, faith them.  You have opportunity to partner with your pastor to call them to his attention as well and encourage their repetition in his worship leading as well.  It will take a little work in research and preparation, but isn’t that, after all, worship as well?


By Thine own eternal Spirit

Rule in all our hearts alone;

By Thine all sufficient merit,

Raise us to Thy glorious throne

-Charles Wesley




Explore posts in the same categories: Choir Ministry, Church keyboard players, Church Music, Leading Worship, Private Worship, Singing Worship, Spiritual formation through singing, Uncategorized, Worship Reminders, Worship theology, Worship thoughts, Youth Worship

One Comment on “Time of Preparation”

  1. deborah taber Says:

    Remembered today is your birthday. Appreciated your thoughtful writings.
    Glad you are doing so well and enjoying your wonderful family and new grandson. 12/7/10

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