23 Nov Advent Series at Calvary: Names of the Messiah
As is the case for every minister I know, long before the Thanksgiving turkey goes in the oven we are already thinking about Advent. This is especially true when the first Sunday of Advent falls on Thanksgiving weekend, as it does this year. It sometimes gives me a slight feeling of whiplash—I would like to linger over the aromas of fresh rosemary, thyme and sage that go in the cornbread dressing I make every year to accompany the turkey. Instead, all the Christmas carols that we will sing during the entire month of December have already been selected for each Sunday. Several bulletins are either already written or are well in the works. The first two sermons are drafted. I can feel the pace quicken and my heart rate right along with it. Pastors are no less susceptible to the incessant busyness of the season than anyone else.
But, I don’t want the overarching feelings of Advent to be harried, hurried and stressed. I have discovered that I must be intentional and deliberate to overcome such pressures, however. It’s just far too easy to get swept up in the craziness.
One thing that helps me remain centered on what’s truly important is scripture. This year our Advent series is entitled, “Names for the Messiah.” The main text for the series comes from the prophet Isaiah whose words were famously put to music in Handel’s Messiah.
For a child has been born for us, a son given to us;
authority rests upon his shoulders;
and he is named Wonderful Counselor,
Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Wonderful Counselor. Mighty God. Everlasting Father. Prince of Peace. Throughout Advent we will explore each of these names in turn, but just speaking them immediately lowers my blood pressure. Then, when I actually take time to meditate on them, it is astonishing how quickly my perspective is restored and the seemingly endless demands of the season find their proper place in my list of priorities. Chief among those priorities is to “find the quiet center,” as one hymn puts it: to kneel before the Christ child just as the shepherds and Magi did, to worship and adore God for who God is and all God has done, to marvel at the wonder of a Savior who came to walk among humanity and who still walks daily with me. That is the miracle that changed—and continues to change—the world
If you live nearby and are not already part of a worshiping community, I invite you to join us at Calvary as we explore the Names for the Messiah this Advent season—and how the reality behind those names continues to be alive to us and in us. You’ll find a complete schedule of our Advent events right here!