Advent

Sabbath is Resistance

We live in a grind culture where “time is money” and there is “no rest for the weary.” Advent, in particular, is a season when we tend to expend an enormous amount of money and energy. By the time Christmas arrives, we might find ourselves too stressed and exhausted to even enjoy it. What if instead we slowed down and rested in this season? What if we resisted the consumerism of Christmas? What if we dreamed and dared to imagine a different kind of Advent?

Read Sojourners Magazine’s cover story on Rest:  All Is Calm

Christmas Eve Services

4:00 p.m. (family worship) – 7:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Christmas Eve is one of the most joyous and beautiful worship services of the year, where we celebrate God among us in Jesus Christ. 4:00 p.m. family service. Each service with candlelight and carols. Each service will be live streamed

December 24: The Story of the First Christmas (4pm Family Service)
Luke 2:1-20
Let’s admit it–our lives aren’t perfect. None of us has everything together. And you know what? That’s ok. Jesus doesn’t care if your life is a mess. He’s coming anyway, and he wants us to welcome him the best we can–even amidst the messiness of our lives. So let’s prepare our hearts to receive the good news of his birth with joy and wonder.

December 24: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel  (7:00 p.m. & 10:00 p.m. Services)
Luke 2:1-20
When the shepherds heard the good news about Jesus’ birth, they dropped everything and went to see him. When they arrived, they weren’t disappointed. It was a life-changing experience. But not long after Jesus’ arrival, the shepherds found themselves back in the field tending their sheep. Life returned to its daily rhythms. This Christmas, God draws near to us. After Christmas, how will we seek God’s quiet, sustaining presence with us amidst the ordinary routines and stresses of daily life?

Advent 4: December 24 at 11:00 a.m.: Imagine
Exodus 15:1-2; 11-13; 17-21
Ephesians 3:17-20

On this fourth Sunday in Advent, we hear part of the Israelites’ victory song. God has rescued them–they are free at last. As God leads the Israelites out of Egypt, God promises to lead them to a land flowing with milk and honey. Along their journey, they have their doubts. But who could blame them? How could they possibly imagine something that they’d never experienced before? 

Neuroscience tells us that the part of our brain we use to access our memories is the same part we use to imagine. Put another way, our memories are the fuel for our imaginations. When we remember the ways that God has worked with us and through us in the past, it becomes easier to imagine how God might do it again in the future. Then we have hope that things can change. 

December 31 Online Worship Only
There will be no in-person worship service on Sunday, December 31. Instead, you are invited to watch a pre-recorded worship service featuring music and liturgy from Fairmounters. You will find the worship video on YouTube and our website that morning.

Sunday Advent Worship
Sunday, December 24th - Imagine

December 24: Imagine
Exodus 13:3-5a
Luke 1:46-55

On this fourth Sunday in Advent, we hear part of the Israelites’ victory song. God has rescued them–they are free at last. As God leads the Israelites out of Egypt, God promises to lead them to a land flowing with milk and honey. Along their journey, they have their doubts. But who could blame them?

How could they possibly imagine something that they’d never experienced before? 

Neuroscience tells us that the part of our brain we use to access our memories is the same part we use to imagine. Put another way, our memories are the fuel for our imaginations. When we remember the ways that God has worked with us and through us in the past, it becomes easier to imagine how God might do it again in the future. Then we have hope that things can change.


 

Sunday, December 3rd - Rest

December 3: Rest
Exodus 5:1-19
Luke 1:46-55

During the Israelites’ slavery in Egypt, they worked without rest. This wasn’t what God had in mind, and so God sent Moses and Aaron to ask Pharaoh for three days of worship and rest in the desert. Pharaoh responded indignantly: “Moses and Aaron, why are you making the people slack off from their work? Do the hard work yourselves!” And as a punishment for being “weak and lazy,” Pharaoh increased their workload. 

Today, there are Pharaohs of all sorts who demand we work harder, faster, more efficiently; who call us weak and lazy if we can’t meet their expectations. There are far fewer voices encouraging us to rest; to practice Sabbath. We are humans made in God’s image; not machines for endless production. As we prepare for Christ to come again this Advent, we remember that we worship a Savior who commanded us to practice peace, hope, joy, and love; not more, faster, harder, longer.



Sunday, December 10th - Resist

December 10: Resist
Exodus 7:1-5; 10a; 13-18; 20-21
Luke 1:46-55

After the Pharaoh refuses God’s command for rest, God resolves to bring justice through resistance: “When Pharaoh refuses to listen to you, then I’ll act against Egypt and I’ll bring my people the Israelites out of the land of Egypt in military formation by momentous events of justice.” The Israelites’ resistance begins with the first of ten plagues that God sends upon the Egyptians–turning the Nile River to blood.

When our pleas for rest go unheeded, God calls us to resist; God accompanies us in our resistance. In the Magnificat, Mary exalts the God who promises to lift up the lowly. Her song of resistance has the potential to be a soundtrack for our struggle to rest.



Sunday, December 17th - Dream

December 17: Dream
Exodus 12:40-42, 50-51; 13:21-22
Psalm 126
Luke 1:46-55

The Israelites had witnessed nine plagues visited upon the Egyptians. But each time the Pharaoh remained stubborn and refused to allow the Israelites time to rest and to worship God. It must have seemed to many as if their resistance was futile; as if they’d never receive the rest they so desperately needed. Then God tells Moses that there’s one final plague before Pharaoh will let them go. Moses relays the instructions to the Israelites and they do as they’re told–sitting in their homes, celebrating the very first Passover, and perhaps for the first time ever–they begin to dream that liberation from their endless work might become reality. “When the Lord changed Zion’s circumstances for the better, it was like we had been dreaming” (Psalm 126:1). 

We too can be in bondage to a system of work and productivity that seems impossible to escape. Our resistance of “the way things are” gives us the energy to dream that another world is possible. And our dream for that world gives us the strength to keep resisting even when the going gets tough. Mary’s Magnificat is a dream–a vision of the Beloved Community. And it reminds us that, ultimately, the dream doesn’t belong to us. It’s not about what we want for ourselves. The dream is what God wants for us and for all people.



Our 2023 Advent Spiritual Formation Kits are here!

Pick up an Advent Spiritual Formation Kit in Andersen Hall. This year, we have different Advent kits for you to practice Slow Advent with our focus Rest is Resistance: Our Urgent Need for Sabbath. We hope these kits will support you in slowing down and finding real rest.

  •  “Slow Stitching”  – “Journaling” – “Painting”  – “Young Families”

Advent is also a time for giving – sharing your love, providing your talent, and giving what you can.

Visit our Advent Call to Actions below.

Help Our Free Little Pantry

Christmas Joy Offering