In a staff meeting this week, Ric Gasaway shared that there have been years at Old Bethel in which you never sang Joy to the World until Christmas Eve. The congregation waited until the celebration of the birth of Christ to sing that triumphant song. Truth be told, the same tradition was upheld in three other congregations where I have served. We sang that hymn this past Sunday during our Hanging of the Greens Advent Celebration. We sang it because it fit well as part of that worship service and because the hymn was originally written, not as a Christmas Carol, but as a way of singing the holy meaning of Psalm 98. However, as Ric said, there is value in waiting to sing that song during Advent.
Advent is about waiting. We are waiting for the world to be made right. Waiting for peace and justice and healing to fill creation. We are waiting on our own prayers and longings to be answered. As Ruth Haley Barton puts it, “Everyone involved in the events surrounding the birth of Jesus was waiting and watching for something. Mary and Joseph were waiting to be married. Elizabeth was waiting for a baby. Zechariah was waiting to regain his ability to speak. Simeon and Anna had been waiting to see the Messiah. The wise men had been watching for a special star. And all were changed—as much by the process of waiting as by the fulfillment of what they had been longing for. This is their story and it is ours as well.” She is saying, that in our waiting lies the possibility of being transformed.
As we wait to celebrate the birth of Jesus, maybe there are God-given gifts to be found in the waiting. Just as it was for Mary and Joseph and all the others who waited for Jesus to be born in their midst. What if we look for the expectant signs of Christ’s hope being born in our midst? What if we say yes to the journeys Christ is calling us into, and walk them waiting for them to be fulfilled? What if we say yes to laboring with the birth of Christ’s Kingdom through our openness and service? What if we wait for prayers to be answered while doing this?
I imagine we too will know heavenly light and new hope in the Christ that is born anew to us over and over again. Happy Advent Old Bethel.
Community Life: What’s Happening
Our Christmas Outreach ministry is collecting underwear and socks for children ages 0-12 years. We will serve more than 600 children this year. Your donations are needed by this Sunday, December 6 and may be placed in the specially marked box in the lobby.
The faith pledges toward the annual budget which empowers us to reach people for Christ through the ministries of Old Bethel has reached 94.6%! Thank you! How exciting! We are hoping to reach 95% by the end of December. You are invited to take part in reaching this exciting goal for the ministries of the church. Please contact Mike Tucker with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Come and take part with your friends and families in a Christmas Posada (Party)! This Sunday, December 6, 2-4pm! Get ready for some Christmas fun and laughter. Bring a covered dish and enjoy a pitch-in meal and then be prepared for games for the whole family, races, pinatas, mad-libs, trivia, cookie decorating, skits and more! Come check it out and bring your friends! We’ll meet in Fellowship Hall. This event is co-sponsored by Family & Hispanic Ministries. Contact Pastor Matthew Phipps.
Our worshipping communities will come together in ONE service at 10am, the last two Sundays of the month for two unique worship events.
Sunday, December 20 the Chancel Choir will lead us through The Promise of Light, a Christmas cantata by Joel Raney.
Sunday, December 27 is Ugly Christmas Sweater Sunday. Don’t miss this Spirit-filled, light-hearted, fun-for-the-whole-family worship experience. Wear your ugliest Christmas sweater (there will be a prize) and fellowship after the service over hot chocolate and fruitcake.
Serving Christ Together,