Meditations while planning worship for Sunday, November 29, 2020 (1st Sunday of Advent)
Sermon Series: Responding To Christmas
Sermon Title: Mary’s Christmas
Primary Scripture: Luke 1:26-38
This Sunday, November 29, we enter into the season of Advent. Like many of you, I love this season – yes, the familiar carols, the lights (which if you know me is a big deal but that is a post for another time), the cookies, time with family and friends, but also the rich traditions.
Advent is the liturgical season leading up to Christmas Eve where we have the opportunity to pause and remember the Biblical narrative that we have a God who was promised, who came, and who will come again. For four weeks we are intentional about focusing on the issues of hope, peace, joy, and love by lighting candles on the Advent Wreath (which, by the way, we would love to get you one to use in your home, just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org).
This week we are starting the service off by singing the ancient carol, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”. Learn the history of this hymn by clicking HERE. This is a great carol because unlike many of the other popular Christmas hymns that talk about the event of Christ’s birth written in the past tense, this Advent hymn is written pleading for the Emmanuel to come. There is anticipation and yearning for the promise of Christ in the lyrics. By singing these ancient words it gives us the space to slow down and embrace the preparation that Advent allows for without too quickly jumping to the joy of Christmas. The preparation before the joy is needed in order for this season to bring the transformation that it can provide.
We will then share in a call to worship which is designed to center our hearts in the same place as we posture ourselves before the throne of God as we bring Him honor and praise together through our collective worship.
Our second song is not traditionally an Advent/Christmas song, but it follows in the same vein as our opening carol. “Be Thou Near To Me” is a sung prayer, and as we sing it we are inviting Christ to draw more, and more, and MORE near to us as individuals and as a people. Again, that is a major theme of Advent, to have God himself come near to us as he dwells among us. It reminds us that as we wander through the darkness of this life, we have a God whose reign is everlasting and promised to us. This is good news for us today, just as it was good news to the ancient people who waited for the prophecy of the Christ Child to come true.
Pastor Dave will then lead us in message centering around how Mary, the Virgin Mother, responded to the Christmas message that was given to her in Luke 1:26-38, and how we can apply the same to our lives today.
The final song of the worship service is not one that I would normally choose for a congregational song because I would normally consider it more of a special music piece (a solo). It is a wonderful piece of poetry, and it is currently my favorite Christmas song. The reason I struggled including it in this week’s music set is because at first glance it is written so specifically for only Mary, but it simply complimented the sermon too well to not be included. I know women will more naturally be able to relate to the words, but “us guys” will need to not focus on the literal message, but rather appreciate the poetic message. The main thrust of this song in the line, “be born in me”… of course this makes sense for a song written for Mary to include this, but us today? us guys? The answer is YES! Birth is a beautiful and sacred thing that God designed for women to physically experience, but God dwells in every human (female and male) every moment of everyday. The line that ties this poetic imagery, and use of words, together is the line, “The only thing my heart can offer is a vacancy…Make my heart your Bethlehem“. I absolutely love that thought! My prayer for us as we enter into Advent is that like the inn keeper who showed mercy to the traveling Mary and Joseph, and offered them a vacancy, that we would do the same for Christ today. That He would be welcomed to live (and reign) in our hearts…that every day His presence would be birthed in us. I can’t think of a better way to respond to Christmas. Can you? Happy Advent.
November 29 Worship set: