We continued our new initiative of pre-recording the service in the sanctuary this week. We are experimenting with camera angles and sound enhancements, so each week may look a little different until we figure out some best practices.
In any case, here is this week’s service. I trust that God will use it to draw you closer to him.
And because we cannot do more sing-along music in the pre-recorded service (the editing process to get the words on the screen timed properly is quite time consuming), I wanted to share some extra music for you to enjoy this Sunday. This is the Houston Chamber Choir singing, “People, look east.” I learned this song at Graceview, and I absolutely love it. It is so bright and lively, which is not always the tone of Advent music. This version is four verses, and here are the lyrics in case you would like to sing along.
Until tomorrow, dear friends, keep on holding to the hope that does not disappoint!
It’s Advent 1, the Sunday of Hope tomorrow. This begins our journey towards Christmas. In recent years, this has been the busiest season of the year with all kinds of socializing, shopping, and making merry with friends, family and church-family. This year will be different. This year, we cannot gather as we once did. Most of our socializing and making merry has been put on hold. And there is a bit of a sense of dread as we enter into this season.
That doesn’t have to be a bad thing. I get that it is uncomfortable and we are tired of all this social distancing. But in dark times, we need the light even more. In times that tend toward exhaustion and despair, what could be more powerful than hope?
So let’s gather some worship resources to remind us of the One who is our hope!
Let’s start with this Christmas Monologue from For King and Country’s album A Drummer Boy Christmas (which is in heavy rotation on my listening devices!):
I thought this little reflection on Christmas put it so well:
A reminder of the journey we begin tomorrow:
This extraordinary instrumental of O Come, O Come Emmanuel (it might look like Israel, but that’s actually movie set for a movie about Jerusalem! Had me fooled for a moment or two):
And finally, a word from the scriptures on Hope:
Until tomorrow, dear friends, keep on holding to hope!
A couple of my colleagues have been posting things about mental health this week. There’s been discussion about whether we (as individuals) are surviving, struggling or in crisis. This has been a week when I’ve been in crisis too much.
A lot of that has had to do with the move to a new condo – which I trust will be worth it in the long run, but has been a mountain of stress in the short run.
So I admit to you that I’m feeling a little broken. And I hope when you’re feeling that way, you will remember this little bit of kindness that a friend shared on Facebook this week:
You can be broken, and still be beautiful. You can be broken, and still worth the sacrifice Jesus made for you, still loved by God who adores you. Yes, even you. (Even me!)
So until tomorrow, dear friends, please remember that though you may feel broken, you are still beautiful and dearly loved.
As our neighbours to the south celebrate Thanksgiving today, this meme came across my feed, and it just did my heart good.
In this year of mostly staying separate, I long for those noisy, chaotic dinners that mark most of our celebrations. I know in the past, there have been some of them that I took for granted. Or during which I was tired or cranky or otherwise disengaged. And now I would give just about anything to go back to one of those crowded, food-laden tables for just 5 minutes with a bunch of people that I love.
In the meantime, I will hold to hope. The hope of a time when those celebratory meals can resume. And the hope of the Heavenly Feast that is prepared for those who love and trust Jesus.
One day, there will be a table with space for absolutely everyone. One day, there will be a table laden with food where we will all gather. One day, everything will be whole and healed and redeemed. One day.
One of the things I’ve been missing most during the pandemic is singing with others. For those of us who go to church, that’s a weekly part of our lives. We sing together. Many of us who belong to the choir at Graceview also participate in other choirs and singing groups.
Only, now we can’t. And that’s hard. That might have stolen the song in your heart.
But, dear friends, I implore you to sing anyway. Turn on the radio or your favourite cd or youtube. Sing along with gusto because when you least feel like singing is usually when you most need to sing. And when the world feels emptied of music, is the time that world most needs your songs.
Singing is an act of hope. An act of gratitude. An act of joy.
Until tomorrow, dear friends, sing to the Lord, for He is good and His love endures forever!
(And to help you do that, here’s For King and Country doing their AWESOME rendition of The Little Drummer Boy…forgive me for the fact that it’s not yet Advent!):
This week we are trying something new! A small crew of faithful Graceview-ians (yup, just made that up!) gathered in the sanctuary to pre-record a service this week. We are continuing to develop this, and pray that it will be meaningful to you to be able to see the sanctuary each week as you worship with us virtually.
Until tomorrow, dear friends, keep trusting that God adores you!
Tomorrow we will be wrapping up our series, “You are Enough” by looking at Romans 5:1-8a and thinking about how God loves us, and how we can graciously accept that love from him. So let’s gather some resources to prepare us for worship.
Let’s start with this lovely prayer:
This wonderful version of “How can I keep from singing” by Audrey Assad:
These thoughts from a couple of Christian writers:
This one is long, but I love it – it’s “Prince of Peace” recorded in The Old City of Jerusalem and in the Golan Heights.