Happy New Year!
No, I don’t have my calendar turned to the wrong page… The church operates according to its own calendar, and the church year begins on the first Sunday of Advent. I love that we begin not with a joyful declaration that something has happened, but with a season of quiet waiting. We remember Israel’s long wait for her Messiah. We remember that we, too, are waiting — for Jesus to come again, to bring all things into submission to him, to usher in the fullness of the Kingdom of God.
These weeks of waiting before our Christmas celebration of the arrival of Immanuel, of God-with-us, remind us that our redemption is a gift from God. Just as we can’t make the days before Christmas pass any more quickly, we are helpless to bring about our own salvation. We are dependent upon God’s grace, upon his coming to us with mercy and love. So we wait, asking God to fill our hearts with patience and with gratitude for his faithfulness to us.
At Restoration, we intentionally try to keep the season of Advent from being full of church activities. Our hope in doing this is that you’ll be able to carve out a little bit of space and time for quiet, for just sitting with God, for talking with him about where you are longing to see him bring his redemption into your life. So without crowding your calendar, here are a few ways we’re offering you the chance to wait on God this Advent:
- Sunday worship — Music (“O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”), sermons (on the book of Ruth and the story of God’s faithfulness in providing a redeemer), the Advent wreath (with different households reflecting on where they’re waiting for God to bring redemption), beautiful art (have you read the RestoArts blog posts on stars?)… Our corporate worship will help orient us in this season of hopeful waiting.
- Advent devotional guide — Again this year, we’re providing Advent devotional guides for each household. These offer brief daily reflections for this season, a way to focus your personal prayer time. Pick one up after the service today.
- Wednesday evening gatherings — Small groups are on hiatus for the month, but we’re offering an opportunity to gather for fellowship, reflection, and prayer during the three Wednesdays in Advent. Join us at 3526 N. Ohio St., Arlington, from 7:30-9:00 pm, starting this week. We’ll gather around the fireplace, share some winter treats, and consider how we can learn to rejoice in the tiny part of God’s story that he’s written for us.
- Advent retreat at Corhaven — The Rev. Bill Haley will be leading a one-day retreat in the Shenandoah Valley this Saturday, Dec. 7. Several folks from Restoration are going, and we have two more slots available. There will be time for reflection and prayer, as well as conversation and the Eucharist. Let me know if you’d like to join us!
- Andrew Peterson concert — The Falls Church Anglican is hosting musician Andrew Peterson in concert at 7:00 pm on Friday, Dec. 20, at Bishop O’Connell High School. The concert includes a full performance of Andrew’s “Behold the Lamb of God” album — a great way to celebrate the good news that Jesus comes to save. Details and tickets available here.
Welcome to Advent at Restoration. I’m looking forward to waiting with you.