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Content about Advent

September 9, 2016
September 9, 2016

At the August 2014 meeting of the worship, music, and arts committee of Central Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, Georgia, one of the youth on the committee suggested an art installation project for our Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany seasons. Her name is Avery West, and her suggestion was that we create a large origami star mobile to hang from the ceiling of our sanctuary.

August 22, 2014

August 22, 2014

The book of Isaiah, which has often been called “the fifth gospel,” preaches the Advent and Christmas gospel in ways that resist both hopelessness and sentimentality. Its texts are full of both unbending realism about the terror of sin and injustice, and resolute hope in the coming of the Messiah and the peaceable kingdom that this Messiah would usher in. This service of lessons and carols journeys through the book of Isaiah sequentially, with readings and music drawn from ten different chapters.

August 14, 2013

Prayer stations are a wonderful way to engage all the senses in meditation, reflection, and prayer. And while they are often used as a separate experience for youth groups or special events, I’ve started to wonder about using them in the context of Sunday morning worship.

August 14, 2013

The psalms touch every emotion. They are genuine cries to God, longing for hope, and shouts of praise that lead us into a closer relationship with our Lord. This service uses the psalms through the eyes of Advent. In Advent we wait, we remember what God did for his people in the past, and we rejoice in our salvation. We also look ahead, knowing that our Lord, the King of glory, is coming, full of truth and grace.

August 14, 2013

August 14, 2013

It’s the season of light. Christmas lights surround us and captivate the children among us and the child within. In worship the light is much more subdued as each week we simply add one more candle flame to the Advent wreath. While the growing light might not be noticeable, the true Light that has come down to earth touches each one of us, and we in turn are called to share the light of Christ with others.

August 27, 2012

Advent is a time of waiting, but it can also be a very meaningful time of confession. These four litanies for confession and assurance are designed for consecutive use during the four Sundays in Advent.

First Sunday in Advent

Song: “O Come, O Come, Immanuel” (st. 1-2, sung by choir) LUYH, CH 245, PH 9, PsH 328, SFL 123, SWM 81, TH 194, WR 154

August 27, 2012
For these Advent candle litanies, the candle lighters —a couple of people or a family—should stand at the Advent wreath, and the psalm reader should stand in another place in the sanctuary. The parts in bold are read by the congregation. One of the lighters reads the regular type; several lighters may read in turn.

First Sunday in Advent

Jesus said, “I am the light of the world.”

August 27, 2012

August 27, 2012

Somewhere inside the busyness of the “real world” there’s “rest,” but it can be hard to find. Although we look for it in various places, it is often elusive or fleeting, at best. Today, I want to introduce you to a man who was forced to learn the hard way to find rest. Zechariah was a priest. You can find the word “rest” inside the word “priest,” but Zechariah had a hard time finding it. His story helps me, and I hope it helps you too. This is the story of Zechariah.

August 22, 2011

The following theme, objective, and structure outline is reminiscent of the lesson plans teachers prepare for their classes. As worship planners it would be a great discipline to use similar categories for our planning.

—JB

August 19, 2011
While even young children can know the facts of the Christmas story it is another thing altogether to comprehend it.  This series helps all of us explore the reality of Christ’s birth a little further, to see a rough manger, not a soft bed, the king’s crown next to the crown of thorns, to begin to grasp the glory and the peace that he brings.
 

Week 1: Jesus, Our Good News

Colossians 1:1-8, 28-29

Lighting of Advent Candle

August 31, 2010

Afew years ago, we designed a worship service for the first Sunday of Advent to introduce and explain the general themes of the season, including the lighting of Advent candles. In past years, the latter had received cursory attention, consisting of a short Bible reading followed by the lighting of the corresponding candle. I saw value in giving the Advent candle themes more attention, perhaps by “illuminating” their meanings (hope, love, joy, peace) visually. We decided to create a banner for each Advent candle.

August 31, 2010

All families develop rituals and traditions. In one family, the grandmother always cut off one end of the Easter ham and baked it in a separate pan. When someone eventually asked Grandma about the symbolism behind this ritual, she laughed and said there was no symbolism. For the many decades she’d been in charge of the Easter feast, she’d never had a pan big enough to hold the whole ham, so she always cut it. It was as simple as that.

August 31, 2010

Awhile ago I happened to be reading one of the minor prophets when I came across a prophecy about the Messiah. I wondered why this prophecy was not included in the traditional service of lessons and carols made popular by the King’s College, Cambridge. My interest piqued, I decided to try to create a new service of lessons and carols using different lessons than those we usually hear.

August 31, 2010

It’s not surprising that the topic of lament is generally ignored in November and December. During this time, when sparkling window displays surround us and manic Christmas music streams from every department store, lament seems shockingly discordant with the season—an inappropriate drifting from “the Christmas spirit.” Though some churches do seek to minister to those who experience grief, loss, and loneliness during Advent, lament is not generally a part of our church services.

August 31, 2010

Lately I’ve been struck by the frantic pace of life. Some folks are complaining about being overloaded; most simply look tired. Meanwhile, I feel increasingly compelled to help people rest in God’s presence.

August 31, 2010

Note: The readers’ parts should be adapted to fit the “voice” and experience of the readers as well as the context in which this script is used.

[Violin plays through “O Come, O Come, Immanuel” CH 245, PH 9, PsH 328, SFL 123, SWM 81, TH 194, WR 154 one time.]

Reader 1: When I was a child, I had no patience for family reunions or for the drawn-out discussions about family genealogy that occurred over Sunday morning coffee at my grandfather’s house.

August 31, 2010

Because Advent can be a hectic time of year, our Creative Arts Team wanted to give worshipers the opportunity to slow down. For the four Sundays of Advent we intentionally set aside time at the beginning of each worship service to enable worshipers to take a breath, reflect, and focus on the coming Savior. It was our hope that this slow-paced opening would help us all “wait for the Lord.”

August 31, 2010

This dramatic reading was written to show how the announcement of a coming Savior fit snugly into the history and expectations of God’s

people, how the Lord Almighty is a God of justice who watches over the needy, and how this God will be manifest in Jesus.

August 31, 2009

The purpose of Reformed Worship is to support the creative and discerning process of worship planning and leadership. We hope that churches will adapt all the resources included in this journal, but sometimes we wonder how they’re doing that.

We were encouraged by the following note from Mary Winters, particularly because her whole church got involved in the project. We share this with you in the hope that you will find it equally encouraging. —JB

August 31, 2009

How far and deep does the meaning of Advent go? Christmas can easily become sentimentalized with nativity scenes or mistakenly celebrated as the beginning of an escape to heaven. Our worship planning group tried to bring out a sense of the deep adventure that Advent really is by drawing in the cosmic scope of Christ’s incarnation in the world.