Updated: Click the button below to download the new Advent Catechism for Children.
This Sunday marks the first week of Advent, a special four-week season leading up to Christmas Day.
Growing up, the only association I had for Advent was the little cardboard calendars my parents would purchase for my brother and I to help us count down the days until Christmas. Each night I would open up that day’s box and receive a small piece of chocolate; it was always just enough to whet my appetite for the feast of food and gifts that I knew awaited our family on Christmas Day.
What Advent Is About
This sense of anticipation and longing is what Advent is all about. It’s about us, corporately and individually, living in the tension between what is and what is to come. The already and the not yet. It’s about us remembering what God has prophesied and promised in the Old Testament, and what he accomplished in Jesus’s first-coming. And it is about cultivating our desire for his second-coming, when all of the promises of God are ultimately fulfilled: when the lion lays down with the lamb, when death is swallowed up in victory, and when Jesus himself wipes away every tear from our eyes.
During Advent we deliberately acknowledge the tension that Christ has come, and yet not all things have been brought to final completion. Certainly, Advent leads us to feel real gratitude and hope as we express thankfulness that Jesus has come, and we rejoice in the reality that now anyone and everyone can call upon his grace in faith and be saved. But, our gratitude and hope is simultaneously mixed with a heightened anticipation for Jesus’s return at the end of time. And, our confident expectation of Jesus’s return is sobering, leading us to recognize the brokenness of this world, and then repent for the ways we still sin and contribute to it's corruption.
Finally, Advent is the season of whetting our appetites for more of Jesus and seeing his kingdom come. It’s an intentional time of giving thanks for the foretastes of heaven God has already graciously given us, while our soul’s salivate at the thought of the joyous feast we will one day enjoy with him in glory.
Advent Hope in Our Sunday Liturgy
Here are a few ways the season of Advent will show up in our Sunday liturgy at Cities:
- Call and Response in the Call to Worship: Over the next four weeks, we’re going to walk through Isaiah 11:1-9 in call and response fashion during the Call to Worship. Each week, the selected portion of the Isaiah passage will by followed by recalling the already/not yet tension of Advent with the pastor calling out, “Christ has come,” and the congregation responding with the declaration that “Christ will come again.”
- The Songs We Sing: Each week, we will sing songs of longing, yearning, and anticipation that correlate with the themes of Isaiah 11 and the Psalms of Ascent.
- Leader Exhortations: Our exhortations will be based on the themes of Isaiah 11:1-9. Each week the aim of the exhortation will be to lead us in repentance in view of Christ’s immanent return.
- New Sermon Series: Pastor Jonathan will be preaching through the Psalms of Ascent (Psalm 120–134). The complementing Bible studies will be available on Wednesday, November 30.
- Chapel Atmosphere: Our services will be slightly darker than usual. The dimmed lighting is intended to help us sense the weightiness and anticipatory nature of Advent, especially as it will stand in stark contrast to the brightness and light that will pervade our worship gathering on Christmas Day.
Christ has come. Christ will come again!