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The Art of Worship: First Sunday of Advent

Happy New Year! Yes! This week starts the season of Advent. Advent begins on the Sunday nearest to November 30 and runs until Christmas Day. I hope you noticed the stark White of Christ the King Sunday turned into beautiful blue! Evergreens, lights, colors and vibrant with life, even in winter. It is the beginning of the liturgical year. This year the church follows year C of the lectionary. The lectionary is a list of scriptures spread out over three years. This list does not cover every part of the Bible, but is comprehensive if read daily over the 1,095 days. You can find the lectionary scriptures here.

My introduction to Advent was my Aunt Connie. In 1963 she was concerned about the commercialization of the Christmas season, so she wrote an Advent book and sent one to everyone she knew. We as a family used that advent book every year, and my mother still has it. We, as a family, sat at the dinner table and before the meal we read a scripture, read a text, lit a candle and sang a song. Such a lovely family tradition and fond Christmas memory!

Advent is not only the preparation for the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ at Christmas but also preparation for the second coming of Christ. Light, of course, is crucial to Advent. We light the candles on the wreath, not to count down to Christmas, but as a guiding light to call us home. So, what do we do when we get ready to go home? We make lists. We put things in order. We set our minds toward our destination. So, as we decorated our facility, we were creating a likeness of our heavenly home.

This week is the first Sunday of Advent, known as the Sunday of hope, we light the prophecy candle, reminding us it’s time to head home. Advent is about the joy of longing for home – the kind of home that will complete us, the kind of home that will transform the world. It is about helping us remember that we have a mission and a hope. We are people who see God at work in this world, and we are partners in that reshaping. We are the disciples who make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

This Sunday, keep arms open to receive those who come, maybe for the first time, maybe old friends, maybe the usual crowd, but all are welcome in God’s home, our church home. Pay attention this season to hospitality; it matters always, but especially during Advent, in this threshold time. If the church is the glimpse of the home we move towards, then take care to reflect the welcome being offered.

Melanie Amend

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