By observing Advent, the church begins the Christian Year by focusing on the promises for the culmination of all things in Jesus Christ. During Christmas season (through the Feast of Epiphany), we join the shepherds in their adoration of the newborn Messiah and Mary and the magi in their contemplation and visceral experience of the implications of God becoming flesh and dwelling among us.
Advent and Christmas seasons, while distinct in both purpose and tone, function well as one coherent series with a turning point at Christmas Eve.
Each Sunday in our Advent-Christmas season series pursues a key theme identified in the gospel reading for each week. The themes, in order, are Watch, Turn, See, Dream, Peace, Word and Reveal.
Advent Week 1: Watch (Nov. 27 - Matthew 24:36-44) The series begins where Advent begins, with the call of Jesus to his disciples to stay on watch for the fulfillment of all things.
Advent Week 2: Turn (Dec. 4 - Matthew 3:1-12) Becoming aware of the end of the universe as we know it that Christ will bring about, we are invited to repent, to turn from our attachments to the powers of death and destruction in this age, and live out of the Spirit-led mission of the coming reign of God.
Advent Week 3: See (Dec. 11 - Matthew 11:2-11) Once we have turned toward the fulfillment God intends, we begin to be able to see the world and treat others in it in a new way.
Advent Week 4: Dream (Dec. 18 - Matthew 1:18-25) Even as we begin to see God’s way of compassion and mercy, we also– like Joseph – come to acknowledge our reliance on God communicating with us and transforming us, not just in our waking, conscious lives, but in our sleeping, unconscious lives as well.
Christmas Eve: Peace (Dec. 14 - Luke 2:1-20) Whether in dreams or visions of angels, we see and hear and join the chorus of the heavenly host announcing the birth of Jesus as a sign of peace to all people of good will.
Christmas Day: Word (Dec. 25 - John 1:1-14) In a ‘Service of the Word’ today, we contemplate the mystery of the Word made flesh and dwelling among us.
Epiphany Sunday: Reveal (Jan. 1 - Matthew 2:1-12) The constellations reveal the birth of Messiah, and the powers of this world are revealed for their self-preservation and violent resistance to the saving work of God.
The promise of this series is to reorient us to our hope in Jesus Christ for the culmination of all things in the age to come, and now in this age to celebrate, contemplate, and join the heavens themselves in declaring Jesus Christ as the hope of the world.