Comfort and Joy | Advent 2016

Christmas is a season of familiar favorites. Throughout the year we look forward to seeing certain people, eating certain foods, and going to those certain places that only Christmas allows us to enjoy. And the music of the season is a big part of the experience. We expect to hear certain songs on the radio and sing certain carols in church. And when we do hear one of those familiar songs it brings with it a rush of emotion solidifying our sense that Christmas is coming and something special is in the air.

This is nothing new. At the very first Christmas angels hovered over awestruck shepherds and sang songs of praise. And for centuries prior to Jesus' birth anxious Israelites offered songs of longing and lament detailing their desire for the Savior to appear. Before the first gift was ever given, before the first tree was ever decorated and the first nativity set sold there were songs. Music--hymns of praise and worship--are as much a familiar and favorite part of Christmas as anything else.

This year at OSNY we are giving special focus to the songs of Christmas. Of course we will be singing them, but throughout Advent we will be studying them as well. We will examine their scriptural foundations, trace their stories of origin, and mine each meter for meaning and truth. Our hope is that by studying these familiar favorites they will become an even greater resource of comfort and joy for you in your celebration of the season, not just this year but for years to come.

Advent (which means "appearing") is an opportunity for us to utilize the familiar and favorite parts of the season to prepare our hearts to fully appreciate and richly celebrate the anniversary of Jesus' arrival on December 25th. It's a season where we intentionally shift our focus both backward and forward, reflecting on the comforting story of Jesus' birth in Bethlehem and to the joy of his future appearing when he will come again, in power, to fully establish his Kingdom.

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This devotional [DOWNLOAD HERE] is intended to help that advent journey. 4 long-form devotions are provided for each Sunday in Advent, with a scripture reading and reflection questions provided for use throughout the week. We also recommend an advent wreath, which consists of 4 candles, one for each Sunday in Advent. Once a week, as you read through the appointed devotion, a new candle is lit until--just before Christmas--all four lights are present, representing the comforting truth that the "Light of the World" is about to appear.

This devotional is prepared collaboratively, each year, by the people of OSNY. These are their insights on God's Word, their reflections on some of your favorite Christmas hymns. And it's all been prayerfully prepared as a gift to you. I pray it serves to increase your comfort and multiply your joy this season. You can follow along with the “Comfort And Joy” teaching series at [OURSAVIOURNEWYORK.COM]. There you can listen to messages, subscribe to the podcast or worship LIVE online. We have also prepared an audio playlist to accompany this devotion on Spotify. The playlist is filled with some of our favorite takes on Advent classics as well as some new songs that will help focus your heart and mind for this season of contemplation. You can find the playlist at this link [bit.ly/OSNYAdvent2016]

Happy Advent.

Matt Popovits
Pastor / Our Saviour New York

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