Reflection from the Organ Bench

November 26, 2023

Since my childhood, I have loved the season of Advent, “the season of reflective preparation for Christ’s birth at Christmas and Christ’s expected return in the Second Coming.” My mom was a church musician and she was very careful to make sure we all knew Christmas did not start the day after Thanksgiving. My dad, on the other hand, was “Mr. Christmas” and was chomping at the bit to get the decorations up. Their compromise was that my dad could put the huge Santa Claus, sleigh, and reindeer on the roof, but couldn’t put up the outside lights and the Christmas tree until at least after the third Sunday of Advent. The stores, of course, didn’t get the message!

In the church, we observe Advent with hymns for that season (not Christmas!) and other liturgy elements that are reflective, calling us to be quiet and prepare to celebrate once again Jesus’ birth. Our services for Advent will be Rite I, sharing language that has been used by Christians for several hundred years. At Grace Church, we will sing “Soon and very soon” (#14 in LEVAS) each Sunday. We will sing the psalm to a quiet, meditative tune. We will use a Doxology after the Offertory from an Advent hymn (#60, st. 6, in Hymnal 1982). The intent, of course, is to help us worship in a way that reflects the special messages of the Advent season.

My favorite choir anthem for the first Sunday of Advent is a poem by Mary Ann Jindra, set to music by composer Libby Larsen, “Before This Fleeting Season Is Upon Us.” It helps me to remember to be quiet, even when the pre-Christmas world suggests otherwise. I hope it will help you reflect on Advent, too.

Lord, before this fleeting season is upon us,
Let me remember to walk slowly.
Lord, bless my heart with love and with quiet.
Give my heart a leaning to hear carols.
Grace our family with contentment,
And the peace that comes only from You.
Lord, help us to do less this busy season;
Go less; stay closer to home; kneel more.
May our hearts be Your heart.
May we simply, peacefully, celebrate You.

I look forward to sharing quiet, meaningful moments with you as we prepare for Christ’s birth.

Wendy Oesterling