We are a culture that fears the uncomfortable, looks for the easy option, and is quickly distracted by the latest shiny bauble. We are a culture that does whatever it can to avoid being confronted by the darkness and evil that surrounds us, to live in denial of the atrocities occurring even in our own communities. We are a culture that is quick to lay blame for the struggles of other humans at their feet rather than consider our own part in supporting systems that have created and maintained injustice. We don’t want to see or feel truth.
This Advent series highlights the themes of promise, preparation, joy, and hope with a focus on how angels model worship in both the Nativity story and in Revelation.
Each week’s Advent readings were read by two members of our youth group.
“Can we please do something different for Christmas Eve this year?”
“Can we try something that will speak to those on the fringes of our community?”
If you plan worship, questions like this might be vying for attention in your own church. While services with traditional structures and themes may appeal to some, others, depending on their age and background, could find such an approach difficult to relate to.
For about seven years in the 1960s, the Beatles recorded special Christmas songs and greetings for the members of its fan club (mailed to them on a 45 rpm—remember those?). One year the song was titled “Christmas Time (Is Here Again).” It has to count as one of the simplest of all Beatles songs as the five words of the title are sung over and over. And over. And over again.
The theme for these Advent/Christmas/Epiphany visuals is “All Is Calm, All Is Bright.” It was inspired by the two hundredth anniversary (in 2018) of the composition of the well-loved Christmas carol “Silent Night! Holy Night” Mohr, LUYH 85, GtG 122, PsH 344. The visual elements incorporated into the sanctuary during the season carried great meaning and significance.
For this Advent/Christmas issue of Reformed Worship, we asked our RW staff this question: “What congregational song related to the story of Christ’s birth do you find particularly meaningful and why?”
from Handel’s Messiah.
Words: Job 19:25–26; 1 Corinthians 15:20; adapt. by Charles Jennens
It’s in the news. It’s in our politics. It’s in our streets. And increasingly, it’s in our churches: diversity—or, more specifically, conflict over the ethnic, racial, and cultural differences that mark “us” as “us” and “them” as “them,” those who are “in” and those who are “out.”
Acquired disability is the norm as we age. An acquired disability occurs after birth, typically from accident, illness, or increasing age. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 71 percent of Americans aged eighty and older have a disability. Statistics Canada has found that 43 percent of Canadians over seventy-five live with a disability.
Eighty and Over Sunday” emerged in the life of a small, rural congregation I was serving. It struck me that we had a significant number of elderly in our midst—people who for years had lived their faith and shaped the life of the community. We were wanting to hold some special services to be an evangelical outreach to those affiliated with or known to the congregation but who did not regularly attend. A service and reception honoring the elderly among us seemed a good way for families and friends to reconnect in a positive, life-giving way.
It’s been twenty years or so since video projection took over many of our worship spaces. Because we were so enamored by the new technology—guaranteed to take our worship to the next level, whatever that was—it quietly snagged the top spot in the visual hierarchy of our spaces.