Advent is the four Sunday season of the church calendar leading up to Christmas. Historically it has been a time of waiting, a time of preparation, a time of expectation for the coming of God to His people. This year at City Church our Advent theme comes from John 3:19: “The light has come into the world.”
The Light Has Come
Our worship services the next four Sundays will trace the theme of God’s light coming into the world: the Light of Creation, the Light of Promise, and the Light of Glory. As John’s Gospel reveals, Jesus is the Light. He comes as light in the midst of darkness.
That means Advent is a time for acknowledging and even sitting in our darkness--not out of some weird desire to force melancholy on ourselves, but to honestly admit the shadows cast over our lives, so we can appreciate better the coming light. Also, from where we stand on this side of the Incarnation, Advent is not waiting for Jesus to be born, but a posture for God’s people who await Jesus’ Second Coming. Jesus is coming as the light not just of salvation, but of glory.
Through our busy-ness and activity over the next four weeks our imaginations will be shaped by one (or more) guiding stories. We will engage in all sorts of holiday habits: Tacky Light Tours. Secret Santa Gift-giving. Christmas Tea at the Jefferson. Holiday parties (all the parties). These wonderful traditions are part of what makes us love this time of year. And these traditions shape us; what we value, what the season is about, what we long for.
This year I encourage you to commit yourself to some Advent habits that will shape you by building your expectation for the True Light--Jesus--who has come (and is coming) into our dark world.
Here are a few ways you can make Advent a meaningful part of December:
1. Our Children’s Ministry Director, Jennifer Murphy, has put together an Advent Reading Plan that follows the Jesus Story Book Bible for use by families. Each day of Advent, read a short section of the Bible with your family. If you want, after each reading add to a simple tree the provided corresponding images (or your own). Download a PDF of those resources here.
2. Relatedly, a few years ago a number of families at City Church developed a Jesse Tree Devotional following this book. Unpack the ornaments and use them again with your family, taking time each day to prepare for Jesus’ coming through the Bible.
3. Our sister church in Richmond, West End Presbyterian [wepc.org], produces an Advent Blog each year with a daily reading and related activities. Follow along on your computer or mobile device.
Additionally, please mark your calendars for the following City Church Advent and Christmas Events:
- Christmas Pageant, Dinner, and Sing-Along Spectacular: Saturday, December 7th, 5 PM at Grace Covenant.
- Christmas Caroling at Randolph Place: Saturday, December 14th, 10 AM.
- Christmas Eve Family Service, Tuesday, December 24th, 4 PM (Grace Covenant)
- Christmas Eve Communion Service, Tuesday, December 24th, 11 PM (Grace Covenant)