Woodland Park Press
Publication of Woodland Park Presbyterian Church
From the Pastor…..
"Songs in Waiting"
About a month ago, I started to get annoyed with the radio. While driving in the car or grocery shopping, a song here or there caught my attention and I realized — much to my dismay —that Christmas Song Season had started. Now, I love Christmas carols and songs, but I didn’t want to hear them the day after Halloween.
My resistance to Christmas Song Season is a resistance to a holiday shopping season that seems to start earlier and earlier every year, but it’s more than that too. In addition to frustration with the continual focus on holiday commercialism, I’m also resistant to extending the Christmas season indefinitely. In the church year, the season of Advent before Christmas is meant to be a time set apart—a special time during which we intentionally practice our waiting.
I think I get annoyed with Christmas music starting too early because music is an integral part of the richness of waiting in Advent. Our current traditions certainly make that clear. For many contemporary Christian communities, singing hymns like “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” in Advent and “Silent Night” by candle light on Christmas Eve mark the beginning and ending of the time of waiting. Music was integral in ancient practices as well. Early Christians started celebrating Christmas in the second century and the season of Advent was invented in the sixth century, but the earliest Christian “songs in waiting” even older than those traditions. They are found in the gospel of Luke: the Song of Mary (the Magnificat), the Song of Zechariah (the Benedictus), the Song of the Angels to the Shepherds (the Gloria), and the Song of Simeon (the Nunc Dimittis). These songs have been arranged and set by hundreds of composers over the centuries, particularly for Advent—the season of waiting.
During Advent this year, we will take a journey through these “songs in waiting” as a congregation. Each Sunday, the choir will sing one of Luke’s songs and the sermon time will consider how this song speaks to us today as we wait for the Christ child anew. Each Sunday evening in Advent, we are invited to Susie Fish-Sadin’s home to eat soup together while we share reflections and questions brought up by that morning’s worship service, and then we’ll gather to “sing in waiting” together using the Holden Evening Prayer service we used at the installation service in October.
As we enter this Advent season, may we celebrate together, may we laugh and cry and pray together, and may we sing together in joy and in waiting.
May it be so.
Worship and Scripture Readings for December