This Sunday, November 29, marks the first Sunday of Advent.
We've developed an advent guide (click here to download the PDF) again this year with two devotional readings for you and your family each week. We will also post those readings here during the week. They will serve to focus your heart and thoughts on the coming of Christ – his coming as a baby in Bethlehem and his coming again in glory. Each reading is followed by a prompt for prayer.
We encourage you to read these with your family as a part of your family worship time, or you could gather with a group of friends to pray and focus on what Christmas truly means – celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Advent means coming. Christ has come and is coming again. During this season, we focus our hearts and minds on his coming. Let’s celebrate his coming as a baby at Christmas, as we also anticipate his coming again in glory.
There is a debate about the right time to start listening to Christmas music. Some people listen to Christmas music year-round. Some start on November 1st as soon as the jack-o-lanterns are packed away. Others say you should wait until after Thanksgiving. No matter when you start listening to Christmas music, it is undeniable that there is something special about Christmas music. When the radio stations begin to play your favorite tunes like “All I Want or Christmas Is You,” or “The Christmas Song,” something happens. When the choir and congregation at church begin to sing “O Come, O Come Emmanuel,” or “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” you know something is coming. You can feel it. The “something coming” is Christmas, and those Christmas songs help to usher in the season. They set the mood and add to the building anticipation. The Christmas songs we love are the soundtrack to our childhoods. They are the songs that make us remember that certain special Christmas. They are the playlist of the season.
The Bible is a very musical book. There are entire books of songs (Psalms, Song of Songs). But, did you know the Gospel of Luke has several songs of the nativity? These songs are used to set the mood for the coming Messiah. They usher in the birth of the Christ child. They are the playlist of the first Christmas.
There are four songs in the first two chapters of Luke’s gospel. The first one is Mary’s song of praise after speaking with her cousin Elizabeth, found in Luke 1:46-55. The second is Zechariah’s song in Luke 1:67-79. After many months of silence because of his unbelief, Zechariah is filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied about his son, John. The third song is the song of the angels from Luke 2:13-14 when the heavenly hosts appear to the shepherds on the night of Jesus’ birth. And the final song is Simeon’s song, from Luke 2:25-35 when he takes the new baby Jesus in his arms and proclaims him to be the salvation of God. Over the next several weeks as a church, we will study these songs. We will read them again and again. Let them be the playlist for your Christmas this year.
1: November 30 – December 6
Mary’s Song (Luke 1:46-55)
2: December 7 - December 13
Zechariah’s Song (Luke 1:67-79)
3: December 14 - December 20
The Angel’s Song (Luke 2:8-14)
4: December 21 - December 24
Simeon’s Song (Luke 2:25-35)
Christmas Day: December 25