What of Advent?
In the late summer of 1986 we accepted our first staff position as a family. My title was, Associate Pastor/Youth Minister. Dr. Rick Davis served the church as Pastor. One of my many responsibilities came each week in what we called the, â??Childrenâ??s Sermon.â?
I learned of Advent Season during my first year on staff. Dr. Davis, a voracious reader, clipped an article from one of his preaching magazines. He wrote at the top, â??Letâ??s do this.â? I think I still have this article.
The phrase, â??Letâ??s do this,â? really meant, â??Todd, I want you to do this.â? I did not know anything about Advent Season and yet I knew everything about Advent Season. Growing up in our Southern Baptist Church did not include celebrating the Advent Season. Instead, we celebrated soon coming Christmas. Our festivities included an Adult Christmas Musical, Childrenâ??s â??Gradedâ? Choir Christmas programs, and the annual visit by Santa Claus.
We talked about the coming of Jesus in these activities. But, we did not view the calendar the same way. What was found on our Julian Calendars set the agenda.
The first year with the Advent Wreath was both exciting and uneasy. New things always excite me. Since I had never seen this done it left me feeling un-easy. We enjoyed the celebration. Ever since those days we always use the Advent Wreath with the Children.
We shared the stories of anticipation (the people and the prophets), preparation (the prophets and John the Baptist), expectation (Elizabeth, Joseph and Mary), and annunciation (the angels, the shepherds, the â??starâ? and the wisemen). These are the stories of Advent, which means â??coming.â?
This year your staff thought of putting together a journal to reflect on the Season of Advent. The Christian Seasons Calendar begins with the expectation of Jesusâ?? first coming and ends with the hope of his return, or â??Second Advent.â? Throughout the year we tell the same story â?? anticipation, preparation, expectation and we await the annunciation.
We were sure others had written a journal for the Season. I have recommended Walter Wangerinâ??s little book, Preparing for Jesus, over the years for families to use for devotional times during the â??hustle and bustleâ? of â??shopping days left before Christmas.â?
One of the features of community is hearing from those in our community. While I greatly appreciate Walter Wangerinâ??s reflections, we wanted to hear the reflections of people in our own congregation. What does God say to us? How can we share in hearing from God? What stories or thoughts from people we know would God use to draw our attention Jesusâ?? direction?
So, this is our first adventure into publishing an Advent Journal by Snow Hill Baptist Church. We hope it will not be the last endeavor of this kind.
We have added a special treat. A few months ago we adopted Jonathan and Kari Masson as our missionaries to Lyon, France. Our relationship is one of encouragement, prayer and communication. We may one day help with a financial need as we are made aware. But, to let them know we believe they are part of our â??familyâ? we invited them to share some thoughts. Each week there is a special reflection from the Massonâ??s. As you read these in particular, pray for this young couple who will be away from family and friends during special seasons we often take for granted here.
This journal offers reflections from each of our staff and a variety of people in our church. Next year, you may want to participate. Write a reflection of your own and keep it. When we make plans for our journal next year, you may want us to include it.
More than anything else, we trust this tool will give you moments to reflect on the coming of Jesus this Advent Season.
From your staff â??
Praying for your blessings as you listen as the Spirit of God animates the activity of God found in the Scriptures and in these reflections in the giving of His Son this Advent Season.