Advent Sermon Series 2023
Joy is often a companion to many other emotions: grief, anticipation, anxiety, excitement, disappointment, exhaustion. Perhaps many of us live with the myth that joy is not something we deserve—or that it is wholly out of reach. But our joy is rooted in the truth that we belong to God. Can you tether yourself to that deep truth? You deserve to feel joy—fully. The world needs your joy, even if you are weary. Our joy is better when it is shared. And so, this Advent, we will hold space for our weariness and our joy. We will seek a “thrill of hope”in our hurting world. We will welcome joy—even and especially if, like the prophet Isaiah, we cry out for comfort (Isaiah 40:1). In this weary world, may we find many ways to rejoice.
Nov. 29 | Prayer Stations
We Acknowledge Our Weariness
As Advent begins, we start by acknowledging the weariness, grief, rage, and hopelessness we carry—and we also affirm that we are made for joy. Joy is designed to live in a full house of other emotions. Sometimes weariness can harden us and prevent us from living fully. We’ve had hard journeys. Grief has left a scar on us. This is how many of us show up this Advent. Through a short sermon and an opportunity to visit a few prayer stations, we will acknowledge the ways we, too, have been wearied as we prepare to welcome the joy that accompanies Jesus’ birth!
Dec. 3 | Mary & Elizabeth
We Find Joy in Connection
Mary & Elizabeth share a special bond, not only as relatives but as ones who prepare to welcome their sons into a weary world. New life has the power to create joy, and we witness Elizabeth’s relatives and neighbors rejoice with her after John is born. The Greek word for rejoice is sugchairó, which means to celebrate God’s grace together, to share in someone else’s joy.
Dec. 10 | Advent Music Sunday
Bethlehem Untold: We Sing Stories of Hope
As soon as Zechariah’s voice returns, his first words are gratitude and blessing. He sings a story of praise for God’s protection and promise, and then he showers a blessing on his newborn son. He sings a story of hope. After Elizabeth proclaims blessings upon Mary, Mary sings: “My soul magnifies God; my spirit rejoices in God.” Mary sings about a God of liberation who pulls the powerful from their thrones and lifts up the lowly. Mary sings a story of hope, one in which justice and joy are interwoven. As we prepare to celebrate Christ’s birth, may we also sing stories of hope, justice, and joy.
Dec. 17 | Christmas Program
We Allow Ourselves to Be Amazed
Be part of – or simply bear witness to – Heart of the Rockies’ debut of A Very Special Child, an Advent/Christmas pageant inspired by the stories in Luke 1-3. Voices of all ages will tell the stories of Jesus and John’s births. Prepare to be amazed when you hear the broader context of the world Jesus was born into and how his life changed others, even before he was born.
Dec. 24 | Christmas Eve @ 10 a.m., 4:30 & 7 p.m.
We Make Room
Luke’s Gospel tells us that when Mary gives birth to Jesus, she lays him in a manger, for there was no place for them in the guest room. Scholars argue about where, exactly, the birth occurs—and why. Was it in a stable or the living room of a simple peasant home? Was Bethlehem teeming with visitors who were also there to be counted in the census? Was Joseph’s family inhospitable because they disapproved of his marital situation? Regardless of where the birth occurs, we know that Christ is born in a crowded, unlikely place. And yet, God makes a place here anyway. God draws the circle wider as shepherds and unexpected guests arrive. This Christmas, let us also make room—for strangers and neighbors alike. For this is good news of great joy for all people.