Navigating Your Advent Journey

Our journey from Advent to Christmas can be one of the most spiritually enriching seasons of the year. As we steadily pace ourselves toward our celebration of Christmas, we have an opportunity to listen to prophetic promises with fresh ears, to hear the angels sing as if for the first time, and to imagine the nativity with eyes wide open.

During this festive season, our occasions for worship will be filled with the sounds and symbols of Advent. Voices from multiple generations will lead us in singing the expectant hymns and hope-filled songs that announce, “Joy to the world, the Lord is come.” From the lighting of the Advent candles, to the singing of the carols, to the messianic prophecies and nativity stories, our worship opportunities during December will deepen your faith and nourish your soul.

To navigate your Advent journey, I encourage you to utilize an Advent Devotional Guide for your daily quiet time. Our Children’s Ministry has prepared a booklet of devotionals written by families in our church, a booklet which will be distributed on Sunday December 2. Several other devotional resources are available online and at local bookstores.

During Advent, let us ROC with generous giving. First, your tithes will support our missions and ministries through the church budget. Second, again this year we invite your participation in seasonal missions such as Angel Tree, the World Mission Offering in honor of Lottie Moon, and other local holiday projects. Finally, we encourage your end-of-the-year gifts toward the ROC which is scheduled to open in January.

Devote primetime to family and friends. During the holiday blitz your calendar can quickly become overcrowded with activities sponsored by the church, school, and office. Protect your calendar from holiday overload and designate some primetime to be with family and friends.

Don’t let the holiday rush dictate your pace. Like the wise ones of preceding years, take time to intentionally navigate your way toward the star in Bethlehem.

As we progress through our Advent journey, may we be filled with the hope, peace, love, and joy of Christ.

Progressing Toward Christmas…One Candle at a Time

Advent is a progressive journey. Much like a progressive dinner, where a group travels sequentially from one residence to the next, partaking of a multi-course meal along the way, so it is with Advent. We begin with the messianic promises of the prophets and journey toward the birth of the Christ child, with scenic stops along the way. This seasonal pilgrimage allows us to sense the anxiety and the anticipation of those who have traveled these roads before us.

This Sunday in worship, we begin our Advent journey by lighting the Prophecy Candle. We will focus on Isaiah 2:1-5 as we rediscover the promise of peace. Also on Sunday morning, we will witness the parade of flags as we focus on global missions and we will hear from our children’s choirs as a preview of their Christmas concert on this Sunday evening.

In the Sundays to come we will progressively light the Bethlehem Candle, the Angel’s Candle, and the Shepherd’s Candle, leading up to the lighting of the Christ Candle on Christmas Eve.

Pray for the Challenger Award Banquet which is scheduled for Monday, December 3 at the Civic Center. In addition to a great meal and awards presentations, each athlete and guest will hear former NFL great Danny Buggs share his testimony and a clear invitation to the Christian life.

Next week, December 2-9, is the Week of Prayer for Global Missions. On Wednesday, December 5 we will hear from two of the missionaries we have supported during the past year. Andrea Burks will share highlights from her experiences in Indonesia and Mark Davis will share about ongoing work in Russia and points beyond.

This season of the year presents multiple opportunities to invite disconnected friends and family members to join you in worship. Who can you invite to join you for worship and Bible study this Sunday?

Are You Ready to Take Your Walk Across the Room?

On Sunday evenings during October, we have been talking about casual ways to share our faith as we have been studying key passages of scripture alongside Bill Hybels’ book, Just Walk Across the Room.

As we begin the month of November, are you ready to take your walk across the room?

As you prepare to be more proactive in sharing the good news, remember the following highlights from our conversations in October:

1. A few of us may have the spiritual gift of evangelism, but all of us have the responsibility to evangelize.

2. Your everyday experiences on familiar and unfamiliar turf will present unlimited opportunities for you to walk across the room to initiate contact and conversation with others.

3. Your conversation may plant a seed that bears fruit years later or immediately.

4. Taking the initiative to walk across the room requires discipline and commitment. You must do it several times before it becomes a way of life.

5. Discover how many ways you can talk about God, abundant life, faith, church, and Jesus without using religious words. Consider how many times Jesus talked with individuals about life concerns before they learned his identity.

How do you take your first steps? For many of us, walking across the room begins with baby steps:

1. Welcome someone to church that you do not yet know.

2. Make a list of “starter questions” to assist you with starting a conversation.

3. Be sure to notice the person in any crowd who is alone.

4. Have a goal of initiating a conversation with a stranger at least once a week.

5. Without sounding overtly religious, share the good news casually and conversationally.

God wants to work through you, your personality, your contacts, and your calendar to invite others into God’s family.