My lovely wife preached last Sunday, so I don't have a sermon to post this week. Instead, here's my column about Advent for the church newsletter.
Dear Friends in Christ:
Preaching during the season of Advent is challenging. In our wider culture, Advent gets substantially consumed by Christmas. In the malls, in restaurants, even at home, we put on the wonderful music that marks Christmastide during the season of Advent. As a result, we frequently get to Christmas morning on December 25th tired of all the Christmas carols and worn out from our “holiday cheer” and shopping mayhem. The malls start their “post-Christmas” sales, and the 24-hour broadcasts of Christmas music vanish as radio stations resume their normal programming on December 26th.
All of this makes planning Advent worship a more complicated endeavor than in times past. The expectation is that our worship and music will reflect what the wider culture is doing. But the church, if it’s doing its job, should struggle against this tide. This year, your worship team has developed a deeply meaningful plan for how we’ll approach the Advent season, paying special attention to developing a sense of suspense and anticipation as we prepare for the season of Christmastide (yes, Christmas really is 12 days long!). When we get to Christmas Eve, we’ll be breaking out of joyous hymns of celebration. We’ll sing more carols the following Sunday, the first Sunday of the Christmas season. We get to continue singing until the Sunday of Epiphany, when we mark the baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Remember that we get the wonderful opportunity to focus for an extended time on the birth of the Christ from December 24th all the way to January 6th. As we move through Advent, remember that Christ hasn’t come just yet. But when He does … wow!