It’s All Good: How Advent Lets Us Dwell On The WHOLE Story Of Christ’s Coming

We all know it, and most of us have said it: our society has commercialized Christmas and replaced Christ in a manger with Frosty, Rudolph, the Grinch and an ever growing list of products for sale.  The very name “Christmas season” has changed into “holiday season” in many quarters.

So what better way to keep the truth of Christmas in the center of our minds than to intentionally focus on Advent, as untold millions of Christians have done over the centuries? I wrote about this with Bobby Gilles on The Gospel Coalition‘s blog, in an article called “Consider Skipping ‘Christmas Season This Year.” As the article explains, this actually makes our Christmas celebration more joyous, not less.

This is why we journey through Advent as a community each December, giving proper context to songs we sing on Sundays like “Joy To The World” and “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.”

And Sojourn member Laura Roberts has shared an idea for teaching and celebrating Advent with your small children, from her own childhood:

When I was a child, we had a super detailed, carved wood nativity set (got it from a “mission fair” at my church) that we put up after Thanksgiving. We set the stable up with the manger and a cow, hid baby Jesus, and then Mary and Joseph “traveled” around the living room until Christmas Eve, when they finally arrived in the stable and had baby Jesus. Then on Christmas Day the shepherds showed up (they had been “abiding in the fields, keeping watch over their flocks by night” on the other end of the bookcase). We left the set up until January 6, which is Three Kings’ Day, when we turned the stable into a house and had the wise men visit Toddler Jesus. It was super fun to move the characters every day, and it put the whole story at the front of our minds all Advent long.

How about you? How do you observe Advent as an individual? A family? A community group?

All the Single, Married, Working Ladies

This Saturday women have the opportunity to gather together for the 2012 Sojourn Women’s Conference and think through what it means to be a woman in three different places: the workplace, the home, and the church. Preachers usually don’t have a hard time teaching about the role of women in the home or the church, but for some reason women in the workplace are left out.

One of the best reasons to attend is to hear Carolyn McCulley, who will talk about women in the workplace. Caryolyn is a biblical, church-based, and provocative woman. Here is a preview of her thoughts on what it means to be a working woman:

As I research my current book project on women, work, and the gospel, I’m struck by how little we discuss some of the most obvious passages about women’s work in the Bible. Childbearing is definitely a major component of the dominion mandate given in Genesis 1:28 to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it.” But it has only been within the last 200 years that we have separated other forms of productivity and industry away from the household and its child-rearing activities. For most of history, women worked very hard at two important tasks in addition to bearing children: providing food and textiles. These were not shopping expeditions. These were complex tasks that involved much skill and many people, often providing various amounts of household income in addition to whatever the family needed for its own consumption.

From her blog post, Success and the Single Woman

Are you single? Are you married? Do you have kids? Great! God has something for all of you this Saturday. Scripture has little to say to women in singleness, but much to say about working women.

It’s not too late to sign up for Sojourn’s Women’s Conference this Saturday. Click here to register. We hope to see you there!

Preaching Hands, Praying Hands

 

One of my pastor heroes, Charles Spurgeon, drew thousands of people every Sunday to hear him preach. He is regarded as one of the best preachers of all time, but he also understood the power of prayer.

I have preached my very heart out. I could not say any more than I have said. Will not your prayers accomplish that which my preaching fails to do? Is it not likely that the Church has been putting forth its preaching hand but not its praying hand? Oh dear friends! Let us agonize in prayer.

He understood that every great church needs the preacher preaching and the people praying. This is our first week of daily prayers at 7am, 12pm, and 5pm, Monday through Friday.

These times are great for praying, but also great for getting to know the people we pray with. We extend, as pastor Spurgeon said, our preaching hand and praying hand, but we can also extend a welcoming hand to those we don’t know.

I’ll be in the prayer room at St. Vincent’s for the next three days at 7am and tomorrow at 12pm. I hope to see you there!

Daily Prayer Starts Next Week

Spiritual growth is impossible apart from the practice of prayer. – Kenneth Boa

We pray because God wants us to, but also because we need to. God speaks to us through Scripture, and we speak to him through prayer.

Since it began, the church has gathered daily for corporate prayer. Starting Monday, we will begin daily prayers at our Midtown campus. We will gather in the prayer room of St. Vincent’s at 7am, 12pm, and 5pm, Monday through Friday, to pray for ourselves, our neighbors, and the world.

Whether it’s before you go to work, during your lunch break, or before you settle down for the evening, I’d love to see you at least once a week over the coming months.

How has the practice of daily prayer, whether by yourself or with the church, affected you?

Women In The Workplace, Home & Church – Let’s Get Holistic!

Do you know why I am so excited about the November 3 Sojourn Women’s conference, Places? I’m excited because this conference won’t just focus on women in the home. And it won’t just focus on women in the church, or even women in the workforce.

We believe that God calls and transforms all of us — women and men —  and that this impacts every area of our lives: where we live, where we work, where we rest, where we see brokenness, and where there is room for growth.

Because of this, Places is a holistic conference that will address issues of work, home and church. We’re excited to partner with

Come, listen, fellowship, and learn how the Bible speaks to women as homemakers, workers, and valued members of the church. The conference is Saturday, Nov 3, from 9-4p at St Vincent’s, and all you have to do is register here!

 

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