Seasons of the Spirit ~ SeasonsFUSION

Lectionary resources for worship, faith formation, and service

Sarah Agnew Reflects on Advent 1: Hope

During Advent, we are using the material from Seasons of the Spirit – partly because I quite like the material, and it’s a very helpful starting place for worship leaders and preachers; and partly because I wrote the liturgy for the current season.

Some weeks ago, Sue began to teach the teenagers some drawing techniques. She decided to use angels as a focus of their learning. We then did some thinking about how we could share what they have been discovering and creating. We thought they could help the congregation to invite angels to be a theme for our journey through Advent this year; the children then picked up on the theme and have been creating angels to hang on the Christmas tree in a couple of weeks, when they take their turn to help lead our gathering.

Angel stories are being remembered and told – I have heard a couple this week, have remembered my own, have heard people share of children’s books that tell stories of angels… it’s a wonder-filled journey of discovery already!

It’s meant that we’re moving away from the key images in Seasons, as angels become our focal image. But the movement of the themes from SeasonsFUSION is still providing a helpful starting point.

The theme of longing today, with Padraig O Tuama’s “Yearn,” put a lovely frame onto which I hung the questions of who is yearning for home, longing for hope – and what does our yearning look like, our longing feel like, as we enter the Advent season this year. We played “Yearn” for people to listen to before the call to worship. I didn’t announce it, but stopped my wandering and listened to the song. (I put on my alb about 15 minutes before worship begins, and wander up and down the aisle saying, “hi,” and checking in with people. It’s a different kind of “procession.”)

Listening to the song helped me to collect my focus for the task of leading the gathering. I heard the conversations slowly finish, and people gradually become quiet as they entered the mood of the song. We printed the words for people, as some people find it hard to pick up the words when listening only, especially a new song. (Recording of “Yearn” and a slide show to accompany it is in the “Multi-media for projection” folder on the Advent, Christmas, Epiphany Data CD.)

People loved the image from Hildegard of Bingen, Falling Stars, and I am really looking forward to offering the images from the artists for reflection, not just words.

So today, as we began our season of waiting, we welcomed the teenagers’ angels, who will wait with us through Advent. The young people had pinned the angels onto a length of sheer lilac material, and during the singing of the hymn “The Angel Gabriel” hung the material in front of the cross behind the communion table and Advent wreath. It looks beautiful, and many people commented on how they appreciated this start to worship.

The story for the day was from Isaiah; when the people are yearning for home, longing for hope in their time of exile. We pondered who is yearning for home, longing for hope today. Some of our pondering included thinking about times when we’re between homes, and don’t quite know where home is any more – and feeling grateful for the homes we have.

And what do we do when we realize something we hoped for isn’t going to happen – what do we hope for when we know that physical healing won’t come, for example; and we remembered those in Margaret River, WA, who have lost their homes and are yearning, longing for hope, and our neighbours in Papua, who are yearning for their homeland to be restored to their own control, longing for hope and a transformation in their relationship with Indonesia.

We have been invited to make or bring angels in two weeks, to hang on the Christmas tree, and to consider our own angel stories. I hope that these stories will enrich, transform, and inspire wonder as the Sacred unfolds amidst the ordinary.

Next week, we have a local choir joining us for our gathering. They rehearse in our hall each week, and have come at Christmas for a number of years to sing for us, as a way of saying thank you for our hospitality. This has been an interesting challenge, shaping the service around what songs they have in their repertoire this year, while continuing to build the themes of Advent and angels, with a focus on peace/comfort.

What are you planning for Advent 2 and its theme of comfort/peace?

– Sarah

This beautiful time lapse video “Flowering Auroras over Norway” is included on the Advent, Christmas, Epiphany Data CD. This restful, gentle comforting music and visual might be projected from the Data CD as people gather for worship.

Aurora Borealis timelapse HD from Tor Even Mathisen on Vimeo.

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This entry was posted on November 29, 2011 by in Advent, Christmas, Epiphany 2011/12, SeasonsFUSION.

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