Advent: Waiting and Preparing Together

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“Advent is a season of expectation and preparation, as the Church prepares to celebrate the coming (adventus) of Christ in his incarnation, and also looks ahead to his final advent as judge at the end of time.” (Common Worship: Times and Seasons)

“Life is Advent, isn’t it?”

A couple of Sundays ago, a music leader at City Church uttered this truth as we began our worship service. As the congregation sang the hymn "Creator of the Stars of Night" and repeated the refrain together, “Come, O Come”, we connected to the longing in every human heart for a rescue to come. Our lives are lived in waiting for help to come.

Advent is the time that the church sets aside to sit in anticipation for the arrival of a King--a King who comes in a most unexpected form and to a most unexpected place. This King Jesus comes not to a palace, but to a manger. He comes announced not by trumpets and royal decrees, but by shepherds who are his PR firm. He doesn’t come with a noble coterie of attendants, but flanked by an unwed mother and an ashamed father.

There is great comfort in the places of the Christian Advent because they show God’s character and the shape of His gospel. Glad tidings of great joy come to the simple, the low, the humble, the weak. Therefore we, who feel so ordinary, find hope in the news of the God of all glory who has come to dwell with us!

Our deep prayer for you and for City Church this Advent is that you would experience deeply the truth of a transcendent God so in love with His creation that He comes into that creation to rescue it. Join us in crying out, “Come, O Come.”

Here are some of the ways that we will celebrate Advent together this year...

Sermon Series The Advent sermon series this year considers the places of the Christmas story from the Gospel of Luke. By exploring the Biblical places of God’s coming to earth in Jesus Christ in contrast to the places we often think of in connection to Christmas, we will understand more about the surprising good news of God.

November 29th — Bethlehem December 6th — The Shepherds’ Field December 13th — The Temple December 20th — Our Hearts

Devotional Reading On Sunday, November 22nd, I challenged all of City Church to adopt the daily practice of reading God’s Word of Life. I suggested beginning with the Gospel of Luke and reading one chapter a day. It’s not too late to start! If you start today, you can read all of Luke’s gospel by Christmas Eve.

Of course, there are many other guides for the devotional reading of Scripture. Our sister church, West End Presbyterian Church, has created an online Advent devotional with readings and meditations to help you prepare for Jesus’ coming.

For several years now the Advent Project from Biola University has produced a multi-media devotional through the season. You can even subscribe to have it sent to you daily.

Finally, for those who prefer their Advent in analog form, here is a PDF with Advent Scripture Readings that can be printed out and stuck in a Bible for easy reference.

There is no magic formula as to what to read, but won’t you join us reading God’s Word? For a reminder of the value and practicalities of Bible reading, listen to the sermon here.

Church Christmas Pageant, Party, and Sing-A-Long Our Christmas celebration will take place on Saturday, December 5th here at Grace Covenant. We’ll kick things off with the pageant at 5:30pm (participants, please arrive no later than 5!), followed by dinner, and a fantastic Christmas carol sing-along. The City Church Christmas Pageant and Party is a fantastic opportunity to invite friends, neighbors, coworkers. Please bring a dish to share! If you’re interested in helping with any (or all!) parts of this event, please email Val Catrow at val@citychurchrva.com.

Christmas Eve Services In addition to our 4pm Sunday Worship, we will have two Christmas Eve services: a family-friendly service of Lessons & Carols at 3:30pm and an 11pm Lessons & Carols service with the Lord’s Supper. Both services will take place in the sanctuary at Grace Covenant.

Family Resources & Events Jennifer Murphy, our Director of Children’s Ministry, has put together the following resources for families…

Prepare Him Room is a family devotional book that has 13 lessons. The book also has instructions on making an advent wreath as well as other activities you can do as a family during advent. This book corresponds to the four-lesson advent series written by the same author that we are using in Children’s Worship. This is best for children who are elementary age and older. Unwrapping the Greatest Gift

Unwrapping the Greatest Gift is a family devotional that can be used with or without ornaments for a Jesse Tree. The short, simple stories, and beautiful pictures make this ideal for younger children, but also great for children who are a bit older.

Finally, on Saturday, December 12th, at 9:30am, we will visit the Randolph Place Retirement Home to sing Christmas carols and visit with the residents, put together a simple craft to leave with them, and share the love of Christ with them. This will be the fourth year we’ve visited them at Christmas, and it’s always such a fun time! We will meet at 10 am in the Randolph Community Center to warm up our voices and enjoy donuts and coffee with the residents before crafting and caroling. For more information, contact Jennifer Murphy at jennifer@citychurchrva.com.