It is the second Sunday of Advent, and we’re making a declaration. Whether we are heeding the call of John the Baptist to “bear fruit worthy of repentance” or longing for the peaceable kingdom of Isaiah, we are taking our stand for the promise that Jesus offers for beloved community, a new way of living. We are declaring and leaning into this kin-dom of heaven, living it now in all the ways we can.
So, how does our worship reflect our decision to live as though God’s kingdom has come “on earth as it is in heaven”? By listening to our prayers. By telling our stories of service and witness and hospitality. By singing the songs that embrace this hope as a lived experience and that express our desire for the fulfillment to come. “Come, thou long-expected Jesus, born to set thy people free.” We are living in anticipation of that freedom for all people, not just for us.
We’re beginning, here at the onset of December, to have a bifocal vision looking back to the incarnation and the glory of that first Christmas, but also looking ahead to the completion and the hope that the joy we experience in this season will not be a passing thing but our whole existence in eternity. This might be time for a creed or affirmation of faith that expresses our hope and confidence in the world that God is bringing to life around and within us.
For many congregations, it is also Communion Sunday and an opportunity to remember that the Christ we celebrate did not remain a baby in a manger, but grew to offer his life for ours, his body for our sustenance. Let our observance of the sacrament this time not be a solemn remembrance of death, but a joyous acceptance of the gift of life offered and shared. Let the openness of the Lord’s Table be a signal to the hospitality of the whole fellowship of faith of which this congregation is a part.
Rev. Dr. Derek Weber, Director of Preaching Ministries, served churches in Indiana and Arkansas and the British Methodist Church. His PhD is from University of Edinburgh in preaching and media. He has taught preaching in seminary and conference settings for more than 20 years.