Inspired by my fellow contributors’ Advent posts, I’d love to share a few items from my community’s Advent observation.
1) Each of the last several years, I’ve had some part in writing and/or curating a church devotional. Even though these reflections usually take place while there are still leaves on the trees and it’s not yet sweater weather, this rhythm of pre-Advent preparation has been a pastoral boon for me. Unlike some things, even some sermons, I’ve found this exercise to be preparatory rather than exhausting. By the time we’re lighting candles on Sunday morning (in an elementary school gym), I’m more prepared and excited rather than bored or tired. Here is this year’s devotional (available for free download). Clicking here will get you to some of the previous material, also freely given.
2) It has been really special as a pastor immersed in a community (both church and wider) chock-full of creative types to attempt to foster that creativity. To pastor people who consider (and some who don’t) themselves artists has been one of the most joyful, challenging, and favorite parts of my duties and the Lord’s provision. This season, I especially enjoyed the give-and-take that went along with commissioning this piece for our church’s Advent. I got the opportunity to work conceptually with the artist, Nathan Hood, on a work that would adorn our bulletins and the advent devotional.
Here are some of Nate’s words on his process:
When putting things together for this Advent imagery there were a few themes in my mind upfront, including the power of God in the helplessness of a human baby and the mystery of God made known in Christ. Reflecting on it now, two things come to mind most readily.
First is the awesomeness, the wonder, the amazing happening of the Uncreated becoming a created being, becoming human. The question always arising from that thought for me is, “If God himself were to walk among us, what would God do, what would God be like if we could see, touch, hear, taste, and smell him?” “What would he be up to?”
Secondly, comes the thought that Christ is at once God and man, our King and our Servant, the Lion and the Lamb. There are many realities alive in Him at the same moment. There are many alive in us, and so many if we have received the love and the sonship he holds out to us.
What do you see? What are your thoughts during this time?
Ultimately in our expression of these truths words fail us, as does imagery. Forgive me for attempting both, and thank you for letting me be a part of this. May our capacity to receive the love of our Father grow, increase, abound. Peace to you church.
3) Finally, our music ministry at church decided to give some of our Advent music away. In 2010, this short record came together as a companion to our Advent devotion. At the time, we were (and still are) trying to figure out what it means to observe this season of waiting and how Advent tempers our unabated early embrace of Christmas (or at least the sentimental christmas-iness around us). The result is a “night-themed” collection of alternately chilly and warm devotionally-sprung, but missionally-minded tunes.
I’d love to invite you to take advantage of this here:
Hope, peace, joy, and love during this season. May God enable you through his Spirit to be an attentive and expectant wait-er. May we anticipate our Lord’s second coming with the “thrill of hope” that we experience and celebrate his first.