16 12 2011

Check out this awesome Advent video, created by the folks at micronormous.  (My favorite part occurs at 1:15).

In which unexpected places have you noticed God at work this holiday season?  And the scarier question is, where have we ignored Him?

Happy New Year! (aka. One Sleepless Night…)

15 12 2011

Ever since my very first youth ministry job back in college, I have wanted to host a sleepover on the night before Advent, and theme it as a New Year’s Eve Party (you know, to celebrate the beginning of the Christian New Year!)

This year, that dream finally became a reality!  We invited three other youth groups to join us, and the result was certainly a night to remember!

Here was our schedule:

7 p.m. – Meet at the church
7:30 p.m. – Roller Skating
9:00 p.m. – Photo Scavenger Hunt
(let me be honest…we didn’t plan this one ahead of time…but the youth were getting bored, and we had to come up with something fast! It ended up being the kids’ favorite part of the whole night!)
10:45 p.m. – Worship at our church (to ring in the New Year!)
12:30 a.m.– Bowling

Sending our prayers up to God (photo by Eric McFarland)

3:00 a.m. – Games at another church
5:00 a.m. – Movie at another church (we chose Elf)
7:00 a.m. – Breakfast and closing worship at another church (we had a cool prayer service, where the youth wrote their prayers on paper lanterns and we lit them on fire as they rose up in the sky!)
8:30 a.m. – Early church to worship with the whole congregation!
(although, fair warning…don’t sit in the front row, because your kids will be nodding off the whole service!)

The late-night worship service was my favorite…we turned out the lights in the Fellowship Hall, and gave all of the youth glow necklaces.  We focused on living a “different” life (i.e. a different calendar, a different rhythm of being).  Right as midnight struck, we served communion.  In addition to receiving bread and juice, they also received a noisemaker with which to ring in the New Year!  It was a really neat mix of solemn worship and joyful celebration…a balance we should probably try to strike a little more often.

Here’s a video from the communion portion of the service (notice the noisemakers in the background, getting louder and louder as the song goes on!)

I’m pretty partial to the worship leader in this video, as he happens to be my husband! 🙂

Happy New Year!

1 12 2009

It’s officially Advent–truly, the most wonderful time of the year!  And even though my Advent got off to a less-than-holy start (we skipped church and drove all day long back to Atlanta), I’m excited about what the season has to hold (you know, in addition to moving and finding jobs and starting over again).

Over at Emerging Women, Kim Wilkens quotes from her father’s Advent Devotional: “I once met a don (professor) at Oxford University who scheduled his life according to the church’s calendar: its seasons, its saints’ days, and its liturgical hours. He refused to use or even to acknowledge the more arithmetic 12-month, numbered-day, 24-hour-subdivided Julian calendar that most of us follow. Making an appointment with him was difficult, to say the least…perhaps we might pay a bit more attention to our distinctive, somewhat countercultural church calendar. There could be some pleasantly surprising gifts awaiting us…”

Growing up, we had an Advent calendar that we hung on our refrigerator every year. Each night in December, my sister and I would take turns uncovering the day’s image. And by Christmas Eve, all the images came together to make one big Christmas picture. Even though the calendar has fallen apart (I think we finally got rid of it last year or so), the idea of the Advent calendar is one of my favorite ways to think about this season: a countdown coming a little closer to the big picture every day.   And if we will let it, each day will reveal a little bit more of that picture to us.

So one of my New Year’s resolutions is to be more intentional about following the Christian calendar in my own devotions and become more in tune with liturgical traditions.  I’m not sure what that will look like yet, but I’ll be sure to keep you posted.

And by the way–Julie Clawson wrote a beautiful post on the meaning of Advent: “Waiting for something beautiful to be born – for joy to fully enter your life – is hard.  The child is already there, the joy is present, but you still long for its arrival.”