ADVENT – WORSHIP IN TIME

Advent Candles unlit 2  I am happy to say that more and more evangelicals seem to be practicing aspects of the Christian year, especially this season of Advent.  This is fitting since it is the beginning of the cycle and because it seems more people are in a mode of contemplative spirit following the Thanksgiving holiday and in the early days of Christmas preparation.  Here are a few simple reminders of why the Advent season is so important to worship, and thoughts about how its observance can be effective within our church families

A Reminder of Time’s Significance

Don’t you just love being in a meeting, or with friends, and everybody ends up at some point checking their phone for messages?  There is a prevailing attitude in our day that seems to imply we can overcome time restrictions.  Technological advances like smartphones, rapid transit, and the internet give us the illusion that we can be anywhere at any time.  It is both fascinating and sad that while we have developed more and more technologies to give us control of our time, the truth is we seem to have less and less time to invest in the most important aspects of life.  It is as though the availability of so much at once becomes tyrannical as some become crippled to the point they seem they are nowhere in particular at a given time.

The Gospel at the center of Christian worship is rooted in events that have taken place in real time.  God made Himself known in time through certain events.  It is in the course of time that we see God act and thus come to know about Him.  He, who is timeless, the Eternal One, sends His only Son into time and space to live among us.  And so, there was a specific day on which Jesus was born, a specific moment that He took His first breath.  He learned a trade and spent time growing into favor with God and man.  The events that led to the cross, the Resurrection, Ascension, all took place in history.  All events that provided for our salvation took place in time.  Observing seasons like Advent serve to remind us of time’s significance, and the special nature of that which took place in the season we observe.

ADVENT OBSERVANCE

Christmas decorations, music, and commercial promotions in stores seem to happen earlier and earlier every year.  Retailers make no bones about depending on this time of year to fill their coffers sufficient to carry them through more lean seasons.  The blatant commercial emphasis seems all the more reason for parents, pastors, and worship leaders to set the tone of the Advent season into a biblical perspective with a clearly spiritual sensitivity.  Symbols of Advent, especially the Advent Wreath outlined with four candles focused around the white Christ candle can help to remind worshipers that while so much commercial hoopla is going on in stores, the real reason for the season has a spiritual core of eternal significance. Jesus came “in the fullness of time.”  Watching candles being lit while others remain in wait for their turn can open doors for significant spiritual conversation with children as to how God works in time.  It can aid we adults to consider our faith in God’s actions in keeping with His very nature as Everlasting Father whose love knows no end.  In our frantic world where everything knocks at our door at once, this season holds rich reminders of real joy found in moments reading to children, teaching or learning songs about a baby, or practicing our faith by giving to those in need knowing they cannot give in return, and therein finding real joy.

This season of the year is resplendent with opportunity.  People seem more nostalgic than other seasons, opening way to heighten understanding of Who holds time in His hand.  There is an openness to time-honored art forms like no other time of the year.  Choral and orchestral music pack concert halls and churches in this season.

In your home and church, will you help patiently lead in this special time of year as we read, sing, and pray, and engage in significant acts of Christian worship?

Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus,

Born to set Thy people free

From our fears and sins release us

Let us find our rest in Thee

Israel’s strength and consolation

Hope of all the earth Thou art

Dear desire of every nation

Joy of every longing heart

                        –Charles Wesley

Explore posts in the same categories: Choir Ministry, Church Music, Congregational Singing, Leading Worship, Music Ministry, Singing Worship, Spiritual formation through singing, Worship Leaders, Worship Pastors, Worship Reminders, Worship theology, Worship thoughts, Youth Worship

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