By Matt Hein
Wherever you find yourself on your Advent journey, we are thankful that you have chosen to join with others across our congregation in this time of reflection on hope. We are more than half way to the celebration of Christmas and this week we break from our study of the O-Antiphons to listen to and reflect on songs of Advent and Christmas, carols and hymns both old and new. These songs are also part of our “Season of Promise: A Night of Hope” concert at University Lutheran Chapel on Wednesday, December 17, 2014 at 7 p.m.
Whether you are a confirmation table group, a family, a group of co-workers, or an individual, we know that God will be with you as you explore the hope that comes in Jesus expressed through these songs.
Consider inviting others to participate with you. Perhaps you will invite other family members, other disciples from St. Luke, your neighbors, etc. If you are using this with a group it will be helpful to project on a TV or screen with audio. You will need internet access to play the songs below. Each song is connected to a question that will help you reflect on the theme of hope. Work through this guide from beginning to end through prayer, song, and refection. And be encouraged as you continue your Advent journey!
Advent 2014: Season of Promise
“A Night of Hope”
All: Stir up our hearts, O Lord, to make ready the way of your only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, that with hope-filled expectation we would look for his second coming and worship him in purity. We pray this for the sake of Jesus, our only hope. Amen.
Where do people look for hope?
Listen: Joy to the World (Chris Tomlin)
In this modern rendition of the old carol (Joy to the World), what is proclaimed as the basis of true joy?
How does joy relate to hope?
Listen: What Child is This (Third Day)
“What Child is This” includes the cross, nails, and spear in its second verse. Those are not culturally popular images in the season of Christmas but this carol connects them to the birth of Jesus. How are they images of hope for us?
Listen: O Come, O Come Emmanuel (Sufjan Stevens)
Emmanuel means God with us. How does the promise of God with us in Jesus bring hope?
Read: Colossians 1:19-23
19 For in [Jesus] all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. 21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard…
Listen: God in Flesh, Our Hope Divine (The Brilliance)
As you listen to the many titles ascribed to Jesus, pay attention for the language that points to Jesus’ suffering and death as our hope.
How does the promise of Colossians 1 above, that Jesus’ death presents you blameless and holy before God, give you hope to keep journeying in faith?
“The hope of the world in baby boy…” This line from the song points us to the One in whom true hope is found. How is the message of hope found in a baby named Jesus different from all the other hopes in the world?
Mary held the world’s hope in her arms that first Christmas night as she cared for her child. What do you think it was like for Mary to gaze upon Jesus as she cradled her infant child?
Listen: I Heard the Bells (Casting Crowns)
“Peace on earth, good will to men…” This line from the song is the song of the angels the night hope was born. Read the following from Luke’s Gospel.
Read: Luke 2:8-20
6 And while they were [in Bethlehem], the time came for [Mary] to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
In the reading, angels proclaim God’s peace that had come in Jesus and shepherds proclaimed their hope in Jesus with the people around them. How can you respond to the good news of hope in Jesus as the bells of Christmas ring, as you journey through Advent, as you encounter people who are in need of the hope you have in God’s Son, etc.?
All: O God, as you make us glad with the coming festival of the birth of your only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, grant that we, who joyfully receive him as our Redeemer, may with sure hope and confidence behold him when he comes again and even now point others to that same hope. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Listen: Come and Worship (Bebo Norman)