During Advent and Christmas, we hear about peace. We read Isaiah’s names for the Messiah, including “Prince of Peace.” In Jesus’ birth story, recorded in Luke, the heavenly hosts say, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased!” (Luke 2:14). We sing, “Sleep in heavenly peace” in the hymn “Silent Night, Holy Night” (LSB 363:1).
The first time I heard the hymn “Thy Strong Word” (LSB 578), I was at a friend’s church choir concert. The beautiful architecture and stained glass windows combined with the multiple choral voices almost had me in tears. I heard the words “Give us lips to sing Thy glory, Tongues Thy mercy to proclaim, Throats that shout the hope that fills us, Mouths to speak Thy holy name” in a whole new way. I felt this same newness to familiar lyrics when I was visiting a church and watching a newborn get baptized while her uncles played their instruments and sang.
You may ask, what is the “wilderness”? A wilderness is usually an experience that follows a season of highs. When Jesus was baptized (which was more accurately a coronation), He took His rightful place as the final and greatest king of Israel.
But as soon as the event was over, He was immediately thrown into a wilderness experience where He fasted for forty days while being tempted by Satan. (See Mark 1:9–13.) Wilderness experiences usually happen when you are at the end of your spiritual rope. They are times of seeking God’s will and direction for your life.
Advent is upon us! In this season, we look back on all Christ did when He came veiled in flesh. We also look forward to when He will come again in His resurrected body with nail-pierced hands. In this year of social-distancing and social unrest, we remember that regardless of circumstance we are connected because of Christ and the life He freely gave for us.
Our kids are in the glory years of Advent anticipation. Catie is in high school, our twins, Sam and Elisabeth, are in middle school, and Nate is in elementary school. Everyone is old enough to remember this season of gifts and miracles, but also too excited to fall asleep on Christmas Eve. A little maturity and a lot of wonder, that’s Advent around our house.
The time of Advent and Christmas is a joyful season in the Church, but for church leaders and volunteers, it can also be an incredibly busy and stressful time. With so much to do and such a short timeline, sometimes you forget things or you just don’t know where to start. Here’s some planning advice to make sure every Advent candle, service-time announcement, and Christmas-program child gets where they need to be, when they need to be there.