Showing posts from December, 2010

The Challenge of Jesus - More Advent Upheaval

Advent, for me this year, was meaningful.It was the first time in my life that I was really able to begin to grasp the tensions and promise of this traditional Church season.I’ve blogged about it before.
Certainly, planning our church community’s worship around the Advent themes of hope, peace, joy and love was helpful to me.My senior pastor grasped the themes as well as he presented his sermon series, “Advent Upheaval.”Putting off Christmas carols, for the most part, until December 19th enhanced the meaning of the songs when we finally did sing them. (The power of delayed gratification.)But perhaps the most profound impact on me was reading NT Wright’s The Challenge of Jesus.
Wright is not a casual read.Some of his books are a bit easier, such as Simply Christian and Surprised by Hope (I highly recommend both).But The Challenge took a bit of thinking to process.I don’t think I read a whole chapter in one sitting.There was so much to take in.Many of the themes I’ve read in Wright’s boo…

Advent Tensions - Magnified Meaning

Advent this year has been an enlightening journey for me. At FirstB we have tried to engage the season with real intention. Our sermon series is called Advent Upheaval – the theme about which I posted a few weeks ago. For the most part, we’ve avoided traditional Christmas carols. And yes, I’ve caught a little heat for it. We’ll evaluate our approach after the turn of the year.

But I had an epiphany (small “e” – I know the big day is supposed to be January 6) last Sunday as we sang Isaac Watts’ classic Advent hymn, “Joy to the World.” I think I’ve sung that carol for fifty years and associated it directly with angels, shepherds, Mary and Joseph with the Holy Child in a manger stall in Bethlehem. Sure, there is some correlation. The Christ Event and all its implications is, after all, one big story. But Watts doesn’t mention any of those things in his text. I’ve just associated the carol with Christmas – well – because I always have, just like the rest of our Western culture. Even tho…