December 18, 2018 Update from Matt McCoy:
For younger children, this Advent I’ve been talking about playing Follow The Leader.
I’ve enjoyed framing what we do through the game Follow The Leader, as it’s helped younger kids latch onto the reason why we do the things we do around Advent.
For last Sunday’s Advent Service (16 Dec), we took a Reformed Advent Liturgy and played “Follow The Leader” with it, so that we could locate ourselves in this story as best as possible.
Our Gathering Music (Latin enthusiasts would call this a “Prelude”) was a guitar, a cello and a clarinet.
We then lit the Advent Candles, and ate a dinner of tortilla soup together.
I asked the classic Advent questions, “What are you waiting for? What are you hoping for?” And as we sat with those questions, we read our Old Testament reading. We looked at the prophecy in 1 Kings where we get the oft-quoted prophecy “The virgin will give birth to a child, and his name will be Emmanuel - God Is With Us.” We talked about how King Ahaz didn’t want to wait on God or hope on God for help with the coming invading army, and how Isaiah gave him, and us, the prophecy of Emmanuel in the context of God’s amazing grace to a stubborn king.
Since this prophecy was fulfilled in a barn, and since we were playing follow the leader, we moved our service out to the barn.
We sang some Christmas carols, and read in Luke 2 about how the angel appeared to the shepherds. We made sure to notice that when this prophecy was fulfilled, that the first people to find out about it weren’t the kings and queens and rulers and scholars, but the outcast and overlooked shepherds.
And so, when I play follow the leader with Jesus as my leader, I notice over and over again that the Holy Spirit shows up to people who are outcast and overlooked. I then asked the advent questions again: “What are you waiting for? What are you hoping for?”
Talking about waiting and hoping with middle schoolers, and friends who are experiencing homelessness, and grownups trying to play follow the leader, is always fun. But doing this in a barn, in the dark, in advent, with farm animals, living into the Christmas Story, was spectacular.
We then came back inside and celebrated Communion. Here is how we wait. Here is where we find hope.
Afterwards we hung out for a bit, and decorated some gingerbread houses.
We’re very much looking forward to Friday afternoon, as we continue to play Follow The Leader by putting together some gift bags for the Christmas Eve service at the Drop In Center at the Lighthouse Mission!