Hymns and Sermons for Advent

Advent is upon us. During my years in ministry my thoughts on what hymns should be sung and what sermons should be preached during Advent have shifted. I believed and still believe that Advent is important in helping Christians prepare for the Christmas holiday. We cannot fully appreciate and enjoy Christmas unless we are properly prepared. Because our society starts celebrating Christmas before Halloween, we, as a culture, are so wrung out by the time Christmas day arrives that we can only look forward to it all being over by December 26. We have no energy left to observe the twelve days of Christmas (December 25 through Epiphany (January 6)).

I used to believe that it was important to reinforce the preparatory nature of Advent by singing Advent and not Christmas hymns and preaching on Advent and not Christmas texts. More recently, I’ve come to recognize that regardless of what the season it is in the church’s liturgical year, the season of our society at large is already Christmas. And because Christmas is already being observed by society at large, many members want to inject some aspect of their faith into the ongoing secular celebration. For that reason we’re going off the lectionary this Advent season to give in-depth treatment to Luke’s Christmas story and to sing as many favorite hymns as we can squeeze in.

We want to make sure that we sing everyone’s favorite Christmas hymn at least once during the Advent-Christmas-Epiphany season. For that reason we’ll be publishing a hymn schedule next Sunday. There are slots left for any favorite hymns we left out. Please let us know if one of your favorites needs to be added.