Advent Service

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Michael Doyle

Puritan Board Junior
Does your church have advent services for the season? If so, why or why not?

I am interested from another thread and my church has decided to have several qualified guest preachers preaching Old Testament texts that signify the advent of the Christ. I am finding it quite interesting and I am supportive but am thinking this through as I read the other thread.

I guess I am just not only exploring RPW but what we are really putting forth in our relative services.
Thanks

Grace and Peace
 

TimV

Puritanboard Botanist
I agree with Pastor Hyde. The church calendar has been seasonal and liturgical for 4000 years, so why change?
 

Michael Doyle

Puritan Board Junior
Thank you Pastor Hyde and Tim. I find that assessment to be very thorough and helpful. I appreciate your insight and I certainly am not looking to stir up a hornets nest. It seems likely that a case can be made against but in the same vain, it seems as though there is a certain, dare I say, cultural relevance that comes into play here.
It is certainly no more of a holy day but draws a clear picture on the importance of the incarnation of Christ as opposed to the hallmark holiday which it most certainly is in most cases.
My wife and I struggle with the use of images, i.e. nativity scenes(we do not do it) and as such put much thought into the celebration of the season and hope to engage in a healthy conversation, respecting the practice of those who avoid its celebration.
 

MMasztal

Puritan Board Sophomore
Yes, we have the advent candle ceremonies, the Chrismon tree , wreaths, a live Nativity, Christmas Eve services. I don't particularly care for them. There are no religious holidays other than the the weekly assembling to worship the Lord.
 

raekwon

Puritan Board Junior
We generally have an Advent/Christmas/Epiphany sermon series this time of year, focusing on our longing for Christ's second advent. I get the arguments against it from an RPW perspective, but recognizing a season doesn't mean that we regard it as somehow holier than other times of the year (and in no way are they any more special than the Lord's Day). Like Danny's link says: "Not Holy, But Helpful."

It should be noted that the Westminster Confession (in chapter 21) does leave room for "thanksgivings upon special occasions" in the public worship of God.
 

Montanablue

Puritan Board Doctor
My family has always celebrated the Advent even when our church has not. (And I am in a church now which does celebrate it). I agree with the above resources and with the "Not Holy, but Helpful" definition.
 

Mushroom

Puritan Board Doctor
To get around RPW issues, our Church lights the candle and has a scripture reading prior to the Call to Worship. But I notice that the candle is left burning during the service of worship. Is the candle then an element of worship, or incidental to it?

Not a fan of advent ceremonies, but have learned to bite my tongue, as it appears to be of great sentimental import to a lot of people. The attraction escapes me.
 

JoyFullMom

Puritan Board Junior
I am surprised to hear the issues with Advent. I was raised SB where December required our family to sell our soul to the choir so we could outdo the church down the road for the best Christmas pageant. We had to have *just the right mix* of the fun story of the kids looking forward to presents and Santa, with *the living nativity* and an angel choir.

The first time we EVER experienced Advent was in a PCA church and it was so worshipful and really set the tone for the whole season for us. I'd really appreciate someone explaining what is wrong with it.

-----Added 11/29/2009 at 08:06:28 EST-----

Oh, and I do appreciate that link Rev. Hyde. Maybe that is the thing with us, we were not taught that Advent was *more* holy.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
Interesting, after having abandoned the practice of having advent candles in the past, we discussed and decided to do it carefully again. It began today.

The focus is not on the significance of the marking, it's a means to consider, in stages the meaning of the person and work of Christ.

A sermon is geared toward the advent topic and I think there will be a take home devotional connected with the topics.

It is always necessary to consider the regulative principle of worship, and I'm thankful that is always an issue, and ought to be. Somehow, advent has never struck me as being violative, but rather a way of focusing attention on Christ.
 

ChariotsofFire

Puritan Board Sophomore
I can understand taking certain times of the year to celebrate Christ and his life, but I struggle with the fact my church gathers for worship on days other than the Lord's Day. If the God commanded us to gather on the Lord's Day for public worship, doesn't that fly in the face of the RPW?
 

Montanablue

Puritan Board Doctor
I can understand taking certain times of the year to celebrate Christ and his life, but I struggle with the fact my church gathers for worship on days other than the Lord's Day. If the God commanded us to gather on the Lord's Day for public worship, doesn't that fly in the face of the RPW?

I actually don't have a problem with this as long as members aren't required to attend. Does your church have a mid-weekly prayer meeting? Or Bible studies where worship takes place? Or a special services of thanksgiving or prayer?
 

NRB

Puritan Board Freshman
Yes the PCA church my wife and I have joined recently do have the advent candles and wreath, and tree, etc. All that has already been mentioned.
I'm a stickler for some traditions.

:)
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
I can understand taking certain times of the year to celebrate Christ and his life, but I struggle with the fact my church gathers for worship on days other than the Lord's Day. If the God commanded us to gather on the Lord's Day for public worship, doesn't that fly in the face of the RPW?

Are you saying gathers for worship on other days in addition to the sabbath or on other days in place of the sabbath?
 

JoyFullMom

Puritan Board Junior
So...is the issue here that *Advent* appears to set the weeks preceding Christmas as *more holy* than the rest of the year? Which would mean it would vary from church to church if the practice were done in the right way or not?

I am truly trying to understand. I noticed in the other thread that one of the original posters said they wished they had not read a certain *blog* until after Christmas. I guess it makes me wonder if this is something truly in scripture....or if there is too much being extrapolated.

No hidden meaning here....someone please share scripture and tell me why this is wrong.
 

Osage Bluestem

Puritan Board Junior
We lit the first purple candle on Sunday and had a reading. The sanctuary is all decked out in purple and wreaths. I like it.

Growing up in the SBC we didn't really do Advent. I never even knew about it until I was exposed to the Roman Catholic liturgical year. I am pleased to see it continued in the PCA.
 

Herald

Administrator
Staff member
We don't have a formal recognition of the advent season, although we did have a Christmas Eve service last year. There was no Christmas Trees or any other physical marker of the holiday. Instead a message was delivered focusing on the purpose for Christ's incarnation.
 

Augusta

Puritan Board Doctor
Our church does not decorate for any "holy day." We are Presbyterian, not RC. There was a Thanksgiving service on Wed. but we did not attend. I am so thankful that we do not have this struggle with these issues on Lord's days. There are still some extra-curricular things that go on during the week like the annual Christmas dinner and sometimes AFTER the end of service there might be candlelight Christmas song singing.

The Temple has been cleansed but the high places are not torn down. :think:
 

Glenn Ferrell

Puritan Board Junior
SRPC (OPC) in Boise is perhaps the only Reformed church in Idaho which does not acknowledge or observe so called “holy” days.

In my brief sojourn as an Episcopalian in my early adulthood (in exile from liberal Presbyterianism) I appreciated the liturgical calendar as an escape from commercialization of the winter solstice festival. If one is going to observe these festivities, better to place the emphasis on Christ’s coming (past and future), and do a full twelve days of Christmas leading up to Epiphany. Such does have potential to take attention off the world’s commercial calendar.

However, all such things are man’s invention and have no place in scripturally warranted worship of God. They merely detract attention from the plain preaching of the gospel.

One may argue for preaching themes from the life of Christ, and I could not object. I do something of that; if I’m not currently preaching consecutively through a gospel, I will periodically take a text from a gospel to bring the emphasis back to Christ; though I hope the essence of his saving work is there in every Old Testament and epistle exposition as well. But, why should preaching the themes of Christ’s incarnation, circumcision, dedication, baptism, temptation, transfiguration, triumphant entry, passion, resurrection, ascension and future coming follow a man devised annual calendar?

Is Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, Ascension, etc. an element or a circumstance of worship? If they don’t simply assist the warranted elements in a practical manner, they have become elements.

This is always a concern of mine when I’m traveling during vacation. I will suck it up and attend the local PCA which is doing Advent or Lent if that is the best option available. But, I’ll travel an extra reasonable distance to worship with a Reformed congregation worshipping more in accord with the RPW.

The WDPWG appendix stated- as is probably posted periodically on this forum:

THERE is no day commanded in scripture to be kept holy under the gospel but the Lord's day, which is the Christian Sabbath.

Festival days, vulgarly called Holy-days, having no warrant in the word of God, are not to be continued.

And, then there is the Gillespie quote I wish I could fit on a tee shirt:

It follows according to the order which I have proposed, to show next that the ceremonies are idolatrous, participative. By communicating with idolaters in their rites and ceremonies, we ourselves become guilty of idolatry; even as Ahaz (2 Kings 16:10), was an idolater, eo ipso [for that very reason], that he took the pattern of an altar from idolators. Forasmuch, then, as kneeling before the consecrated bread, the sign of the cross, surplice, festival days, bishopping, bowing down to the altar, administration of the sacraments in private places, etc., are the wares of Rome, the baggage of Babylon, the trinkets of the whore, the badges of Popery, the ensigns of Christ's enemies, and the very trophies of Antichrist: we cannot conform, communicate and symbolize with the idolatrous Papists in the use of the same, without making ourselves idolaters by participation.

But, please note, I find no reason to object to a winter seasonable and cultural festival with lights, parties, feasting, fellowship and gift giving, all to the glory of God. If you have a party, please invite me. I just don’t find any basis for bringing such into the public worship of God.

Also, I’m not on some belligerent campaign to condemn my Reformed friends for their unwarranted practices in this manner. I gently tease my fellow NAPARC pastors regarding this, as they do me regarding my non-practice. I suggest time and consideration may give them a different view of such things. In the meantime, we love and encourage one another in the gospel.
 

reformedminister

Puritan Board Sophomore
My church does observe Advent. The only thing different is the lighting of the Advent candles and a special Scripture Reading for Advent. We also have an additional prayer for the Advent season (a collect). My sermon may or may not come from the Advent reading. Last evening we had a hanging the greens service, which entailed hymn singing, prayer, and some intruction about what advent is (this was not a sermon). Throughout this time and after the service we hung various Christmas decorations like wreaths, ivy, and a tree.
 

carlgobelman

Puritan Board Freshman
My church regularly observes the Advent season. Usually there are candles lit each week and the sermons emphasize the importance of the coming of Christ.

Unfortunately, this year we're doing something different. The sermon series is titled "HOLLYWOOD MEETS CHRISTMAS: A JOURNEY FROM TINSEL TOWN TO BETHLEHEM." Each week there will be video clip played from a popular Christmas movie (yesterday it was "A Charlie Brown Christmas"), and the message will examine a "nugget of truth" from these films that help us understand the "spirit of Christmas."

:doh:
 

Michael Doyle

Puritan Board Junior
My church regularly observes the Advent season. Usually there are candles lit each week and the sermons emphasize the importance of the coming of Christ.

Unfortunately, this year we're doing something different. The sermon series is titled "HOLLYWOOD MEETS CHRISTMAS: A JOURNEY FROM TINSEL TOWN TO BETHLEHEM." Each week there will be video clip played from a popular Christmas movie (yesterday it was "A Charlie Brown Christmas"), and the message will examine a "nugget of truth" from these films that help us understand the "spirit of Christmas."

:doh:

Yikes! :eek: I am sorry to hear that. Obviously that goes way beyond the accepted norm
 

carlgobelman

Puritan Board Freshman
My church regularly observes the Advent season. Usually there are candles lit each week and the sermons emphasize the importance of the coming of Christ.

Unfortunately, this year we're doing something different. The sermon series is titled "HOLLYWOOD MEETS CHRISTMAS: A JOURNEY FROM TINSEL TOWN TO BETHLEHEM." Each week there will be video clip played from a popular Christmas movie (yesterday it was "A Charlie Brown Christmas"), and the message will examine a "nugget of truth" from these films that help us understand the "spirit of Christmas."

:doh:

Yikes! :eek: I am sorry to hear that. Obviously that goes way beyond the accepted norm

Don't get me started... :mad: I'm meeting with our elders tomorrow night to go over some concerns I have with the direction of the church; this will just add to the list...

Sorry to go :offtopic:
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
My church does observe Advent. The only thing different is the lighting of the Advent candles and a special Scripture Reading for Advent. We also have an additional prayer for the Advent season (a collect). My sermon may or may not come from the Advent reading. Last evening we had a hanging the greens service, which entailed hymn singing, prayer, and some intruction about what advent is (this was not a sermon). Throughout this time and after the service we hung various Christmas decorations like wreaths, ivy, and a tree.

As I recollect last Lord's Day and look at the bulletin, it seems we have nothing stated in the bulletin about it being "Advent." We did have a simple stand with five candles on it. No wreath. No decorations.

The sermon is not described as an Advent sermon, but "The Word Made Flesh (1)" and next week, "The Word made Flesh (2)." So, this is being used as an occasion to explain in detail the trinity, the pre-existence of our Lord and His human and divine natures. Nothing more that I can tell.

Now, I've learned enough about the regulative principle to say that a Christmas tree ought not be in the sanctuary. A few years ago, would not have given that a second thought, but now I would.

semper reformanda, semper reformans.
 

Curt

Puritan Board Graduate
My church regularly observes the Advent season. Usually there are candles lit each week and the sermons emphasize the importance of the coming of Christ.

Unfortunately, this year we're doing something different. The sermon series is titled "HOLLYWOOD MEETS CHRISTMAS: A JOURNEY FROM TINSEL TOWN TO BETHLEHEM." Each week there will be video clip played from a popular Christmas movie (yesterday it was "A Charlie Brown Christmas"), and the message will examine a "nugget of truth" from these films that help us understand the "spirit of Christmas."

:doh:

Gross.
 

Augusta

Puritan Board Doctor
My church regularly observes the Advent season. Usually there are candles lit each week and the sermons emphasize the importance of the coming of Christ.

Unfortunately, this year we're doing something different. The sermon series is titled "HOLLYWOOD MEETS CHRISTMAS: A JOURNEY FROM TINSEL TOWN TO BETHLEHEM." Each week there will be video clip played from a popular Christmas movie (yesterday it was "A Charlie Brown Christmas"), and the message will examine a "nugget of truth" from these films that help us understand the "spirit of Christmas."

:doh:

This is exactly what the RPW it for. If you start letting in things not commanded then you have no where to draw the line. Why is the above "to much" or as Michael state "beyond the norm?" The "norm" changes all the time. If you have these arbitrary lines then you don't have a leg to stand on in keeping things out. It is all based on opinion and not scripture. :2cents:
 

Philip

Puritan Board Graduate
All of the PCA churches I have attended celebrated advent. While at times I have been uncomfortable with particular practices (e.g. children's "musicals" etc.), I do not consider it to be any bad or wrong thing as long as certain principles are followed.

1) The Lord's Day liturgy must not be changed, or else altered in very small matters. I'm a bit conflicted over advent wreaths.
2) The sermons should not change or else should be a special series (e.g. a short verse-by-verse exposition on a passage or series of passages). The focus should be on the word in preaching, not on the season.
3) All changes to normal practice should be reserved for a special service. It's perfectly fine for Christians to hold special services on weekdays.

I see this as a way of organizing the year around Christ and I only wish that we celebrated the resurrection as well as we do Christ's birth.
 
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