Tag Archives: Advent

Lent, Holy Week, Eastertide – and on to Pentecost

By Sarah Erickson, Director for Lifelong Learning

Holy Week is in the mirror and Eastertide is upon us. To all musicians, liturgical artists, educators, clergy, office and facilities staff and volunteer alike – well done! You made it, holy Easter afternoon nap and all.

While some of you are on vacation, alone or with family, others will preach instead of the lead minister. In many places, the congregation may be more sparse than usual for the Sunday after Easter because it coincides with spring break for local school systems.

Whatever your circumstances, I encourage you to let the dust settle and then gather with other leaders in your congregation to assess your education, worship, fellowship and outreach offerings during the past 6 or seven weeks. My favorite approach to assessment is to ask myself two simple questions:

What went well?

What might we do differently?

After doing so, ask the same questions of others, and compare notes. While memories are fresh, you’ve gathered feedback that will be useful not only next year, but in other seasons as well.

It’s also time to consider some additions to your liturgical season tool kit. Take a look at these for starters: Continue reading Lent, Holy Week, Eastertide – and on to Pentecost

Fa La La La La, Blah Blah Blah: Or How I Survived Advent. With Grace.

Michael D. Kirby, MDiv ’03

It’s two Christmases too late, but this Advent and Christmastide, somewhere along the way, Elsa’s song finally stopped being a reason to idolize Edina Menzel and touched a cord. I think I was finally able to Let It Go…

In the song she sings about freeing yourself to be yourself, but in the cultural zeitgeist, the song became about letting go in the more traditional sense, loosening one’s grasp and letting be what would be. Perhaps both apply to clergy at this time of year.

I didn’t think it would be this way. After 12 Advents in a solo pastorate, the 13th would be my first as head of staff in a multi-staff church. I was very concerned that, despite incredible confidence in my colleagues, I was going to revert to form and micromanage everything to a fair-thee-well and tick off everyone. Continue reading Fa La La La La, Blah Blah Blah: Or How I Survived Advent. With Grace.

The Risky Hospitality of Joseph, from The Journey: 2015 Advent Devotional

By Tom Walker, Chairman, CTS Board of Trustees; and pastor of Palms Presbyterian Church

As Luke tells the story of the journey to the manger, Mary is center stage and becomes the paradigmatic example of what a faithful follower of God looks like. Her willingness to trust in God’s promises and to live accordingly becomes the model for discipleship in Luke.

Matthew, however, tells this story through the eyes of Joseph. Joseph becomes the example of a faithful disciple, as he hears the command of God and follows it. Yet I wonder if Joseph is not the forgotten person in the Christmas story, almost a tag along for Mary and the baby. Continue reading The Risky Hospitality of Joseph, from The Journey: 2015 Advent Devotional

A Vulnerable Love: the Good News of Christmas

By Jihyun Oh, MDiv ’06

This is my first Advent / Christmas Season back in the parish in seven years. The last Advent worship series I had to plan and the last marathon day of Christmas Eve services I helped lead were in 2008. Sure, I’ve been to Christmas Eve services in the intervening years, but I haven’t had to be responsible for them. So, even though I have known that Advent and Christmas were coming for months, it has felt a little as if it has all snuck up on me.

For this and other reasons, I’ve been thinking about vulnerability a lot lately. And because the interwebs has so many answers, I typed in “vulnerability” and looked at what came up. Continue reading A Vulnerable Love: the Good News of Christmas

Downloading Advent

By Sarah Erickson, Director for Lifelong Learning

The days are surely coming, says the LORD, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.” Jeremiah 33: 14-15

So it began for many Christians on Sunday, Nov. 29. Or at least it began that way for many congregations that follow the Revised Common Lectionary. For those congregations using the Narrative Lectionary, it began, “Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign; he reigned thirty-one years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Jedidah daughter of Adaiah of Bozkath. He did what was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in all the way of his father David; he did not turn aside to the right or to the left.” 2 Kings 22:1-2

“It” is Advent, the beginning of the liturgical year, the four Sundays prior to Christmastide. It happens every year. Congregational volunteers and staff leaders ponder how to engage children of God of all ages in meaningful activities designed to enrich the understanding and practice of watchful waiting. The good news is there are many resources available – and they will most likely be readily accessible this year for those who are still rounding out their Advent preparations and for those who are already determined to incorporate some new, contextually-appropriate, meaningful resources into next year’s preparations. Continue reading Downloading Advent