A great fire needs a great fireplace.
As we begin the birth of a new church year this Advent, I am thankful for the great fireplace of the church year. It gives a framework to help God’s people remember and celebrate the life of our Savior.
“Ultimately, liturgies are not ours to form, for liturgies were made to form us,” Andie Moody writes in the next article as she describes the glory of liturgical worship. The same could be said about the church year. When we observe it, the church year helps to form us. We remember — bring forward into life — the salvation history through time. The church year shapes our days so that we remember the coming of Jesus and his incarnation during Christmas. Then we focus on the revelation to the whole world with the coming of the Magi in Epiphany, and the need for fasting, repentance and prayer during Lent. Jesus’ passion and resurrection come into sharp focus in Holy Week and Easter. We remember to receive the Holy Spirit at Pentecost—who breathes life and vitality into the church until Jesus comes again. And we return to Advent again, looking up for his coming again and preparing to receive him afresh come Christmas. Left to our own inclinations and preferences, we would tend either to over or under emphasize aspects of the great drama of redemption.
The fire is growing — this Sunday as we light two candles on the Advent wreath, we give thanks to the Lord that he has given us a full-orbed church, a wide fireplace, in which to multiply congregations. Thank God that we have a solid fireplace to remember, with all of the saints through the ages and throughout the world, how great is the One who rose from the dead and will come again in great glory to judge the living and the dead.
Canon William Beasley serves as Director of the Greenhouse Movement, working directly with Archbishop Bob Duncan in the Anglican Church in North America to help establish new congregations in the Upper Midwest and throughout North America. Canon William is both a regional leader and a rector of multiplying congregations.
by Alex Cameron
One of the music leaders in our church came up to me the other day and asked something like this, “What Christmas music are we allowed to sing before Christmas?” He asked because he knows I am an Advent zealot. I eschew the singing of carols until Christmas Eve. I might appear very Grinch-like:
“The more the Grinch thought of the Who-Christmas-Sing,
The more the Grinch thought, ‘I must stop this whole thing’”*
I am not wanting to stop Christmas or singing, quite the contrary. I just want to know Advent before the Christmas feast starts. In Advent we remember the coming of Jesus in humility as an infant AND we look to his coming again in glory to judge the living and the dead. Or that is the intent at least. The four weeks leading up to Christmas are a time for preparation. Preparation includes cooking and baking as well as shopping, but it also includes self-examination and reflection. It is hard to stuff in any reflection when we are rushing ahead to Christmas.
I want to sing Advent hymns like “Lo he comes with clouds descending” and “Come thou long-expected Jesus.” I am entirely excited about belting out “Joy to the World” but I first want to squeeze in “Hark! A herald voice is sounding.” (Any confusion of this Advent hymn with the obviously Christmas carol, “Hark the herald angels sing” is understandable, what with “hark” and “herald,” two largely unused “h” words, appearing in both titles.) Before I rush to the Incarnation, the birth of Jesus, I think it wise to spend a few moments considering the Consummation, his glorious coming as judge. My judge.
Others have thought it wise before me. That’s why there is an Advent.
*Theodore Geisel, How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Originally posted on sttimothyburlington.blogspot.com
Fr. Alex has been an ordained priest and pastor for 20 years. A graduate of Wycliffe College at the University of Toronto, he has served congregations in the Diocese of Montreal and now in the Anglican Diocese in New England. He is passionate about Jesus and the Gospel and loves the work of disciple-making.
by Andie Moody
Many of us were raised in churches that fear liturgy. Well-meaning evangelical churches have often spurned the idea of liturgy along with anything remotely resembling Roman Catholicism in an attempt to protect us from ritualism, idolatry or tradition. The trouble here is that every church has its liturgy, be it simple or ornate. It may be three songs, an offering and a sermon. Or it may be the order for Holy Eucharist used at my Anglican church. The question we must ponder is whether our liturgies are faithful to Scripture and the heritage of the people of God or are products of the culture that surrounds us. Ultimately, liturgies are not ours to form, for liturgies were made to form us.
The English word liturgy comes from the Greek word leitourgia, which means the work of the people. It rings with the idea of a civic duty, a deed that serves a greater good. For over 2000 years when the Christian community has gathered to worship, they have participated in something that is beyond themselves, that functions, as Christ put it, “for the life of the world.” In our recent flight from tradition, we have often allowed culture to form us in its image when it should be the reverse. The American values of consumerism and entertainment have so seeped into our understanding of worship that we approach Sundays as passive observers, “church shopping” until we find the particular service that “fills” us most. We show up expecting the people on stage to do the work while we just receive the benefits. The liturgy has been contorted into the work of the elite, the exclusive product designed and delivered by the people on stage to the audience, the consumers. Historical, faithful liturgy, however, has always been about the congregation — pastor, parishioner and worship leader — doing the work together.
Since the early church began gathering in the catacombs, they have followed a simple liturgical structure modeled after Jewish temple services: readings from Scripture, an explication of the text, confirmation of faith through a creed, confession of sin, prayer and, at the command of Christ, communion. Within this structure the church receives from God through Word and Sacrament and gives back to him in worship, prayer, confession and confirmation. We come to the table each week not as consumers of a fabricated product, but as the consumed ones, who in the act of a corporate confession have our individual identities swallowed up into the body of Christ.
As those preparing to spend our lives as ministers in the Church, we must get this right. First, we must properly understand our role in the worship service: we are not the privileged ones, the set-apart ones who get to teach and lead in our churches. The participation of each person gathered in our communities is as important as our own. We must invite them all to participate in the work of the people or risk having a church full of puffed-up consumers. Second, we must know our history. Under the headship of Christ, the church has been faithfully ministering to the world for 2000 years; let us resist the temptation to continually re-invent her. Ritual and tradition, the faithful narration of those who have gone before us, may actually be some of the best teachers we have. May we dignify all members of the body of Christ by inviting them weekly into the work that builds and nourishes the Church.
Andie worships and serves at Redeemer Anglican in Chicago, where she assists with the communications efforts. She holds theology and communications degrees from Moody Bible Institute and works in marketing at Christianity Today. Outside of the office and church you may find Andie playing her harp or acting sous chef for her husband’s culinary adventures.
Canon William Beasley Barbara Gauthier Jens Notstad Nate Beasley Rev. Jonathan Kindberg Bishop Gregory Bowers Guest Blogger Rev. Gamaliel Garcia
Last 10 Posts
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Canon William Beasley on 12/05/2013
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Guest Blogger on 12/04/2013
Take Life for Granted or Take it with Gratitude
Canon William Beasley on 11/26/2013
The Thankful Cynic
Guest Blogger on 11/26/2013
Sing to God in Jubilation
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Loosen Up and Play!
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Christ Comes to Us Invisibly Within His Twofold Coming
Barbara Gauthier on 11/25/2013
Children in Our Father’s House
Jens Notstad on 11/20/2013
Simplicity in a Barn
Canon William Beasley on 11/20/2013