The Third Sunday of Advent: December 12, 2010

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This week marks the third Sunday in the season of Advent, a season that remembers the story of Christ’s birth and anticipates his return. In his Advent devotional “Preparing for Jesus”, Walter Wangerin writes,

“The light of Christmas shines into our darkness! We should be the walking dead. What we deserve, in fact, is the absence of God – a cold and cosmic isolation – for this is our sin, that we chose to be gods in the place of God. In the day we disobeyed we began to die. We should, therefore, be dwelling in a land of deep darkness, mistrust, hatreds, hopelessness, finality and death.

But here in a child comes God, the light! And light in darkness in a frightening thing. (“People loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” John 3:19.) O my friend, a self-examination both humble and true must cause us to tremble before the living God… But even as we feared, so do we rejoice when we hear the light say, “Don’t be afraid. I have not come to punish but to give you life…I am the Savior born for you.

And so our observance of Advent provides an opportunity for such “humble self-examination” as we reflect on our deep need for Jesus Christ, the Light of world to come and pierce the darkness of our souls and world to bring newness, life and hope.

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Prepare a Place by Michael W. Smith and Christine Dente

Prepare a place while you’re waiting.
Prepare a place for the coming One.
Prepare a place and be patient,
while you wait for the coming One.

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Joyous Light – Words by unknown author, late 3rd -early century 4th century; translated by John Keble, 1834, alt. Arrangement and additional chorus by Chris Tomlin, David Crowder and Louie Giglio.

Joyous Light was adapted from the Phos Hilaron, one of the earliest known hymns in Christendom. The Phos Hilaron was sung by the early church to celebrate the Risen Lord.

Hail Gladdening Light, sun so bright
Jesus Christ, end of night, alleluia.
Hail Gladdening Light, such joyous Light
O Brilliant Star, forever shine, alleluia.

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The Christ, Our Light by Martin Reardon

Throughout the Bible we see that God uses the metaphor of light to describe his character, particularly in regards to His Son, the Light of the World. With this new song we remember the darkness of our hearts apart from Christ.

When all was dark and without dawn
You gave us Light, you sent your Son.
The Christ, the Christ, He shines, He shines
and drives all dark away, away.

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We also read Isaiah 60:1-5, 19-22 together.

You Are the Light by Matthew Smith and Jeff Pardo (based in part on a hymn text by Charles Wesley)

In You Are the Light we ask Christ to illuminate our dark hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God.

Dark and cheerless is the morn
without Your hand to comfort me.
Joyless is the day’s return
’til Your mercy’s beams I see.
‘Til they inward light impart,
Glad my eyes and warm my heart

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We returned to Isaiah 60:1-3 with a confession (from the Worship Sourcebook) which helped us to see areas where we have failed to see and acknowledge Christ in our lives.

Come, Lord Jesus (An Advent Song)

In Christ’s death and resurrection, death has been swallowed up in victory and we live with the hope of His second Advent.

You will flood our souls with light,
Bring the broken world to rights,
as You swallow death with life,
we will be singing,
Come Lord Jesus, come redeem us
we will wait for You.

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O Come, O Come Emmanuel – LM 88 88 (Veni Emmanuel) / Words: Latin, 12th Cent; tr. composite / Tune: “Processionale:, 15th cent. ; adpt. Thomas Helmore, 1854

O come, Thou Dayspring come and cheer
Our spirit’s by Thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
and death’s dark shadows put to flight
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
shall come to thee, O Israel!

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Savior of the Nations, Come – Words: Ambrose (4th Century), Martin Luther (1523), Traditional: Calvin Seerveld (1984), Music: Enchiridia, Erfurt (1524), Arr. Bruce Benedict (2009)

We participated in communion together and sang Savior of the Nations, Come arranged by Bruce Benedict (a great musician and an acquaintance of mine). Bruce himself shares some thoughts on the hymn in his blog, Cardiphonia, that give some insight into its history and meaning.

Savior of the Nations, Come is a fairly obscure but ancient hymn that beautifully reflects the themes of advent as well as reinforcing the tenants of the Apostles Creed, the humility of Christ (Phil 2), His Intercession, and the gloried anticipation of his expected return.

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Joy to the World – Words: Isaac Watts (1719) (based on Psalm 98), Music: ANTIOCH C.M.rep. George Frederick Handel (1742), Arr. Lowell Mason (1836)

This favorite Christmas hymn is based on Psalm 98 where all of creation is invited to join together in praise and anticipation of the coming Messiah.

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.

Music Team for December 12, 2010:

Carly Allen – bass
Taylor Bonderer – Violin
Mark Collum – vocals
David Cover – percussion
Rhett Johnson – acoustic guitar
Scott Johnson – vocals, acoustic guitar
Shane Murphy – cello
Kristen Pierce – vocals
Aliston Tatum – violin

This week’s blog features photos by Scott Myers. For more information about music written by members of the music team for corporate worship visit The Crossing Music. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

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