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Advent Is Coming

Rebecca Chancellor Sicks —  October 23, 2015

While I am one of those people who doesn’t like to see signs of Christmas in the stores before Halloween, I am certainly aware that as church leaders, we must begin preparing for Advent and Christmas well in advance. Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve begun to see the signs: emails highlighting curriculum, devotionals, and worship materials for Advent and Christmas, the children are getting ready to prepare their Christmas program, and the Worship Committee is recruiting people to light the Advent candles. Advent is coming.

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There is irony in that statement: “Advent Is Coming.” Because Advent means “coming” and the season of Advent is indeed about to begin. The first Sunday of Advent this year is November 29th, and there is much to prepare before that date arrives. There are so many good resources available for pastors during the Advent season, but each year, I seem to spend a lot of time searching for liturgy to be used in worship for lighting the Advent candles. I’ve stumbled across a good variety, but this year, I decided to write an Advent Candle Liturgy myself. I was inspired by World Vision’s Advent 2015 Prayer Guide, which is a timely resource calling us to prayer and action for those on the margins, including refugees. This is a powerful call to prayer and action, and I was moved to include similar themes in an Advent candle lighting liturgy.

Before I share the complete liturgy with you, I want to reflect on a few other salient points regarding lighting the Advent candles in worship. Continue Reading…

Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8, NRSV).

Keeping Sabbath has become an important part of my own life’s rhythm and one that truly sustains me for the journey… of being a pastor, of facing challenges with grace, and of life in general. There is a reason God rested after six days of creating. When Jesus went off by himself to pray, I believe it was so that he could rest in God’s presence, center himself on the Father, and be nourished spiritually so that he was ready to teach, heal, and give peace. We all need sustenance for the journey, and God will provide… if we will only receive.image2

In recent years, a lot has been written on Sabbath-keeping and reclaiming this particular commandment in our 21st century lives. I’ve attended workshops and read books about what it means to remember the Sabbath… and it can take on different forms. Setting aside one day a week is part of it, but many talk about making “Sabbath time” every day, mini-Sabbaths throughout the week. How are we spending time with God and resting in God’s presence each day?

There are times that I get really excited over Presbyterian theology and language. Continue Reading…