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Preparing for Worship (11/28/10)

Corporate worship is a great thing.  Of course, we can worship God on our own and with our families - and we should.  But there is something special about the people of God coming together for worship (Hebrews 10:24-25).  Thus, we hope that corporate worship is the highlight of your week.  In an effort to help you get more out of worship, we're posting a short preview of the upcoming worship service each week.  Hopefully you'll find this helpful and encouraging.

The season of Advent begins this Sunday.  Advent is a time that focuses our attention on Christ’s first coming as well as his Second coming when he will return to redeem all of creation and rule with all power and authority.  Since we know not the day or the hour of Christ’s return we are filled with both a sense of joyful expectation and humble reverence, with our spiritual focus being on lives of prayer and preparation.  The church has used the season of Advent (which means “coming” or “arrival”) to focus and reflect on the particular themes of the final judgement of the world, John the Baptist’s preparation for the ministry of Christ, Christ’s entry into Jerusalem and the annunciation to Mary that she would be the mother of the Savior of the world.  

One way that we mark the time of this season is with the Advent wreath and the lighting of advent candles.  The evergreens help to symbolize the new and everlasting life brought through Jesus Christ.   One candle is lit the first Sunday of Advent, Two are lit the second Sunday, and so on.  The light progressively reminds us that Jesus is the light of the world that comes into the darkness of our lives to bring newness, life, and hope (Isa 42:6).  Each of the candles has special significance: The first is the Promise candle; the second is for Light; the third is for Love, the fourth is the Hope candle; and the center white candle is the Christ candle, lit on Christmas (or Christmas Eve).  

A reformation Advent prayer summarizes this season. “Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

We'll be starting a new series for Advent this week called "The Gospel According to Isaiah."  To prepare for worship, read Isaiah 55:1-13.  Think about the invitation that God gives and what it means to respond to this invitation.

We'll also be singing some Christmas carols this week, including "Come Thou Long Expected Jesus" and "Joy to the World."

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