Advent is here. In Northern New Jersey, Advent came in with some cold and yucky weather. I was impressed that we had a good number of people in worship despite the weather. I suspected attendance to be a bit more sparse!
We had an eventful day - the boiler basically stopped working leaving one section of the building (including sanctuary) cold - but it lasted long enough to get the room warmed up first. Our music director was out of town, and we have a midi with our organ, so he usually records the music in advance, but the midi wasn't working, so all the music was pre-recorded onto our keyboard. Still sounded pretty good though!
We're focusing on a theme this year of "Come, Prince of Peace," using the song from The Faith We Sing, "Come Now O Prince of Peace," (#2232) each week with our Advent lighting. The sub-themes are: Advent 1 - Calm and Chaos, Advent 2 - Comfort and Challenge, Advent 3 - Garden and Desert, Advent 4, Now and Not Yet, Christmas Eve - Child and King, First Christmas - Hope and Fear, Epiphany - Wisdom and Folly. My plan is to focus on the tension of Advent - how it appears that things are either/or, but we really have both/and. For instance, it appeared with yesterday's readings that we had to choose - Isaiah's peaceful image or Jesus' anxiety-causing vision. This coming Sunday, we have Isaiah's picture of a messiah and John the Baptist's image of a messiah. Both aren't exactly right in what they picture - and Jesus is what they picture and not what they picture and more than what they picture. I'm excited about where we're going this Advent, and I am also excited that I actually have a plan (and have my sermons done for 12/9 and 12/16 already!)
One of my favorite things about Advent is that it marks a new year in the Christian calendar. Instead of starting a new year on January 1st with instant-resolution-failure, we can start a new year on First Advent, with a time of preparation. We have to prepare for God to be at work in us. And I don't know about you, but I don't always spend the time I need to prepare for something big to happen. If we want to find meaning in Christmas, we should prepare ourselves.
On a side note, here's a link to a nice Advent calendar for children/families to use. I handed this out in my children's sermon yesterday.
Happy New Year!