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Advent 2023

Advent and Christmas at Lakeside 2023

How Does a Weary World Rejoice? 

We acknowledge our weariness

Luke 1:1-23 (Zechariah & Elizabeth are promised a child) | Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19

As Advent begins, we start by acknowledging the weariness, grief, rage, and hopelessness we carry—and we also affirm that we are made for joy. We start the season with Zechariah and Elizabeth; they have battled infertility and have lived many years. Perhaps they feel the weight of hopes and dreams unattained. The angel comes to Zechariah with a promise of good news, but Zechariah can’t fully receive it. Sometimes weariness can harden us and prevent us from living fully. Let us acknowledge the ways we, too, are hardened by disbelief. Like the psalmist, let us ask, “how long?” and plead for restoration.

We find joy in connection

Luke 1:24-45 (Gabriel visits Mary; Mary goes to Elizabeth) | Isaiah 40:1-11

In community, our joy expands. When we can’t rejoice, we can carry each other’s joy. That is what Elizabeth and Mary do for each other. The good news begins to take shape in Elizabeth’s womb, but scripture tells us that she stays secluded, hiding her pregnancy from others—that is, until Mary arrives at her door, also pregnant. Perhaps Mary’s arrival is the inbreaking that changes everything for Elizabeth, for in that moment, her child leaps in her womb and she is filled with the Spirit. She can’t help but to rejoice. Her joy is contagious and wraps around Mary like a hug. Through the prophet Isaiah, we hear God speak tender words of comfort; this is the comfort we can give to and receive from each other during this season.

Come and Sing: Messiah 

December 8, 7:00 pm 

Come lift your voice with others in our community to sing Handel’s masterpiece with guest soloists and instrumentalists. We will sing the Christmas portion of Messiah, plus the Hallelujah Chorus. 

A freewill offering will be collected and given to Abraham’s Pantry, an interfaith food pantry based at Union Presbyterian Church providing a 3-day emergency supply of meal kits, cleaning products & hygiene items to neighbors in need. 

We allow ourselves to be amazed

Luke 1:57-66 (The birth of John) | Psalm 126

After Elizabeth gives birth, her neighbors and family celebrate with her. When it comes time to name the child, Zechariah affirms the name given by the angel and by Elizabeth. In that moment of affirming the promise, Zechariah’s speech is restored. Everyone is filled with awe. How often do you allow yourself to be amazed? Wonder is all around us—can we recognize it? As we learn how to rejoice in a weary world, can we live in a way that allows amazement and wonder to surprise us often? In Psalm 126, those who expect to reap tears are granted a surprise: shouts of joy. Amazement is a balm for the weary.

Lessons & Carols

The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols

Celebrating the birth of Jesus, follows the story of the fall of humanity, the promise of Messiah, and the birth of Jesus. Told in nine Scripture readings, interspersed with the singing of Christmas carols and choral music, the format was based on an order first observed in 1880 on Christmas Eve. The best-known version is broadcast annually from King’s College, Cambridge, England.


Meet at the church at 2pm and expected to last until 4pm or so. 

Prepare Him Room

Bringing the energy of ‘At the Manger’ to our church home with intergenerational dinner, play, and prayer.

A Worship Service for the Weary

We sing stories of hope

Luke 1:46-55 (Magnificat) | Luke 1:67-80 (Zechariah’s song)

As soon as Zechariah’s voice returns, his first words are gratitude and blessing. He sings a story of praise for God’s protection and promise, and then he showers a blessing on his newborn son. He sings a story of hope. After Elizabeth exclaims blessings upon Mary, Mary sings: “My soul magnifies God; my spirit rejoices in God.” Mary sings about a God of liberation who pulls the powerful from their thrones and lifts up the lowly. Mary sings a story of hope, one in which justice and joy are interwoven. As we prepare to celebrate Christ’s birth, may we also sing stories of hope, justice, and joy.

We make room

Luke 2:1-20 (Nativity story)

Luke’s Gospel tells us that when Mary gives birth to Jesus, she lays him in a manger, for there was no place for them in the guest room. Scholars argue about where, exactly, the birth occurs—and why. Was it in an inn or the living room of a simple peasant home? Was Bethlehem teeming with visitors who were also there to be counted in the census? Was Joseph’s family inhospitable because they disapproved of his marital situation? Regardless of where the birth occurs, we know that Christ is born in a crowded, unlikely place. And yet, God makes a place here anyway. God draws the circle wider as shepherds and unexpected guests arrive. This Christmas, let us also make room—for strangers and neighbors alike. For this is good news of great joy for all people.

We root ourselves in ritual

Luke 2:21-38 (Jesus is circumcised & presented in the temple)

After eight days have passed, Mary and Joseph circumcise their child and give him the name Jesus. They return to the temple in Jerusalem to enact the sacred birth rituals of their culture and tradition. While they are doing what is customary, the unexpected occurs. A man named Simeon is led by the Spirit into the temple to proclaim Jesus as the “light of revelation.” Then, a prophet named Anna suddenly approaches them; she praises God and speaks about Jesus to everyone longing for redemption. Rituals mark sacred turning points in our lives. They can help us make meaning of celebrations, losses, and transitions. As new parents to Jesus, Mary and Joseph could feel weary for what lies ahead, but perhaps these sacred rituals—and those who bear witness to them—bolster them and give them courage for the journey.

How do our sacred rituals root us and help us live into new chapters with courage?

We trust your signs

Matthew 2:1-12

We began our series by acknowledging our weariness and we conclude with trusting the guidance of God’s signs of hope.

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