This is the third Sunday of Advent, for most of us Proddy nonconformists essentially the final one because next week will be nativity services and 'candles by carol light' and variations there-on. I have no problem with this, indeed, I love the 'traditional' fourth Sunday given over slightly non-liturgically correct anticipatory celebration. Over the last couple of days, I finally worked out the direction that this year's advent services have taken (I'm a bit slow sometimes!!).
Week 1 we were 'spotting the signs' recognsiing that even amidst all the chaos and troubles of the world there are signs of God's activity, signs of hope.
Week 2 we were 'getting ourselves ready' and used Paul's prayer for the church at Philippi (chapter 1 of the letter) as a basis for some personal spiritual clearing out of clutter, the 'removal of dross by fire' and 'washing with fullers soap' of the prophet
Week 3 we are 'being joyful' and using Philippians 4 as the centre of our thoughts. Joy not as a feeling (it isn't) or an option (it isn't) but as an imperative and as evidence of God's work within us (cf Galatians 5). Having cleared out the clutter there is space for beauty - gentleness, peace, prayerfulness, hopefulness. Not mere tinsel put up for a few days, but permanent fixtures. Wow!
Week 4 - we will be quite ready to celebrate as the children and young people lead our morning worship and as we welcome ecumenical friends and visitors for our evening carol service.
Always good when it comes together... especially when we discover what God has been doing as we (I) have blundered through it all again.