October is the month where things start to change in many parts of our country. The weather starts getting colder. Leaves turn their color and begin falling from the trees. Fun fall activities blend in with the rhythm of the school year, and all of a sudden: we realize that all of these changes will bring us into the holidays. For pastors and worship leaders, it's time to start thinking about the Advent/Christmas season. At the end of the crazy year we’ve had—full of natural disasters, human violence and heartbreak—we know it’s time for change, even as we return to the familiar rituals that accompany the end of another calendar cycle and the beginning of another liturgical cycle.
Every Advent, we take a journey that leads us through the story of Jesus’ birth. This story is full of many of the same elements that we face in our lives today: social and religious controversy, political unrest (especially as we approach Election Day), the need to be saved from our own patterns of self-destruction, in many forms. The Christmas story is one that brings us face-to-face yet again with our our need for change, for the transformation that Christ brings as a baby in a manger. We know it’s a story that everyone needs to hear, in some ways that everyone already knows. And yet, our challenge as worship leaders, as the church, is to make this story come alive for our communities in newly relevant and powerful ways each year.
There’s another well-known story for the Christmas season that resurfaces this time of year: A Christmas Carol, the classic tale by Charles Dickens. Dickens tells of Ebenezer Scrooge’s almost mystical confrontation with his flaws and the ugly parts of his life that cry out for change. When Scrooge is challenged by the spirits of Christmas Past, Present, and Future, he realizes his own need for transformation — and ultimately decides to embrace a new life of compassion and mercy. Matt Rawle’s new book, The Redemption of Scrooge, focuses on this story as a journey of Christian transformation. I was inspired by this story and Rawle’s book as a timely message to explore for the Advent/Christmas season.
If you haven’t heard yet, there’s a brand-new, fully scripted Advent/Christmas worship series in the Worship Design Studio called “God Bless Us Every One: The Redemption of Scrooge,” based upon A Christmas Carol and Rawle’s new book. This series is all about exploring change and transformation in our daily lives, as individuals and as a community. If you are looking ahead to the Advent season and wanting to offer a meaningful worship journey for your congregation, this option is designed to take the hard work out of all the preparations and give you a ready-made package of worship materials to share with your team and community.
Lean more about the series at the webpage here: www.worshipdesignstudio.com/scrooge. If you have not done a Worship Design Studio series before, this is a perfect opportunity to try one – you don’t need to be a member to access the materials we have developed. Positive change is one of the best gifts we can give to ourselves and our communities, and I would love for you to have the opportunity to explore change this year in your church. Ring out the bells of joy and hope – Christmas is coming!