This article is from Issue 40 of “On The Move,” a publication of new learning possibilities for churches, at one time published by The Joint Board of Christian Education of Australia and New Zealand.
Although some ideas and liturgies may appear somewhat “dated” in style, concept, imagery or language, they may nevertheless offer a spring-board for new ideas among people who find themselves leading worship, perhaps in a new context, and with some trepidation.
Reproduced by permission. May be reprinted for use in local congregations only.
IN A NEW LIGHT – by John B. Salmon
As people arrive this Advent Sunday at St. Barnabas, Glenfield, there is already activity :not the usual quiet organ and hushed movement, but loud taped music and people rushing noisily from place to place.As people arrive, part of the activity is to be given a slip of paper and a crayon ‘Please write your name’. The name slips are gathered and glued to furm a chain which later becomes part of our offering. But it takes tme as people arrive. It’s bustle. It’s unsettling. It’s more like the shopping mall than the church.
‘Quiet!’ The voice booms; the music stops.
‘Listen to this!’ The words of Isaiah 40:3-5 herald the call to settle down, to get ready, to prepare for the coming which Advent marks. A soloist continues with ‘Prepare ye the way of the Lord’.
We are now ready — or at least more ready. The minister gives a greeting and introduces the service with its preparation theme — moving out of the year ending and into the light of the new.
Now newsprint is rolled down the centre aisle and all are invited to write, draw or paste cut-outs from the scattered newspapers to record the memorable events of the year now passing. Some memories are personal. Some recall parish occasions. Others touch on national or international events. (In New Zealand 1981we cannot ignore the trauma of The Tour’ — a remembering many would like to forget.) As this recording takes place, the three worship leaders discuss the issues raised, reflect on the year, and gather up the thoughts and memories shared in the congregation.
Then the time comes for confession and absolution. At the end, the choir enters. As they process down the centre aisle, the newsprint ‘carpet’ is rolled up before them, then stacked away under the altar as a sign that the year is now condudcd and it’s to the future that we look.
With a reading from John 1, the service continues by lighting the first Advent Candle. Then a meditation on light a focus on the candle’s flame, a drawing together of people to the centre, which is the hope of the light coming into the world. This is accompanied by gentle music from Handel.
We have moved out of our noisy bustle; we have put away the events of the past year; we have prepared ourselves to receive the one who comes. Advent.
In hope, now, and in this new light — which will shine progressively brighter over the next few weeks — we join together in celebrating the eucharist as the climax to our worship on Advent Sunday.