This weekend, we began our Advent series with a message entitled “God Before Us.” Joe focused on four ways that Jesus was “before” us: in creation, in the Passover, in the Prophets, and in experience. Jesus is the source of life, the sacrifice for our redemption, the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets, and our example. It was a powerful perspective for our first week of focusing on Advent. You can listen to the entire message here. For the first week of this series, we decided to try a drastically different format for our services, following each point of the message with a time of response through singing. I think it gave the services a more reflective emphasis, and I really enjoyed it as a change up to keep us engaged in responding to the Word of God.

Here’s our service plan from this weekend:

Time of Preparation/Prayer
“Joyous Light” (G) [Unknown/John H. Gower, w/ add. chorus by Chris Tomlin, David Crowder, Louie Giglio]
Welcome/Greeting Time
“Joyful (The One Who Saves)” (D) [Brenton Brown, Jason Ingram, Henry van Dyke, Ludwig van Beethoven]
Message – “God Before Us In Creation” [Joe Hishmeh]
“Glory To God Forever” (Bb) [Vicky Beeching, Steve Fee]
Message – “God Before Us In The Passover” [Joe Hishmeh]
“Jesus Messiah” (G) [Daniel Carson, Chris Tomlin, Ed Cash, Jesse Reeves]
Communion
Message – “God Before Us In The Prophets” [Joe Hishmeh]
“O Come, O Come Emmanuel” (G) [John M. Neale]
Message – “God Before Us In Experience” – [Joe Hishmeh]
“God Is Able” (A) [Reuben Morgan, Ben Fielding]

Offering/Announcements
Dismissal

“Joyous Light” – We sang this song in our preparation time. We have done a few times in the past, and I love using the translation of this ancient hymn with the modern chorus. It was a great fit for Advent as well, focusing on Jesus as the Light of the world.

“Joyful (The One Who Saves)” – We taught this song to our congregation this weekend, and it is a song that I have wanted to sing with our congregation for over a year. I love the new chorus added to the hymn, “Joyful, Joyful”: “You are the One who saves/ You are the One who saves/ You are the One whose hands lift us from the grave/ You are the Light of life/ The everlasting Day/ You are the One who takes all our sins away.”

“Glory To God Forever” – After Joe spoke about Jesus being before us in creation, this song was a fitting response. He is before all things, and He is the almighty God, who is worthy of all the glory, forever!

“Jesus Messiah” – We sang this song during communion after Joe spoke about Jesus being before us in the Passover. He used a doorframe to illustrate the brushing of the blood of the lamb on the doorposts and the lintel in the Passover, and explained how the blood of the Lamb not only protects us and spares us from the wrath of God, but it sets us free to life in the promise of God. Our hope is in Jesus alone, and this song echoes this and celebrates what our Messiah has done for us.

“O Come, O Come Emmanuel” – After talking about the Prophets and how God’s people were crying out for the Messiah to come, we sang this Christmas standard. A few years ago, I rearranged this song for an acoustic Christmas CD that I recorded with my wife for our friends and family, and that’s the arrangement that we used. This is one of my favorite Advent songs, and I think it made a great connection with the Prophets and the people of God in the Old Testament period, and God’s people today who await His triumphant return.

“God Is Able” – We closed with this song, looking to Jesus as our victorious Savior who can do all things and who will rescue and redeem us from sin and death. He is with us and He is for us as His people. He will never fail. He will never leave us. Amen!

This was a unique and refreshing weekend of worshiping our Savior together. Our team did a great job as always. I love celebrating Advent with the Church. It’s a beautiful thing.

I hope you had a great weekend of worship wherever you were.

In the Son,

Bill

p.s. don’t forget to check out The Worship Community!

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