Hopeful Signs: An Advent Sermon on John 1:6-28

We expect some of the same things around Christmas: the same message, the same songs, the familiar traditions of it all.  We still have to work to prepare the way of the Lord.  For my family, this Christmas is different.  Advent is different.  Pregnancy has made it so, and I have come to understand that […]

Emmanuel: God is (Still) With Us

Earlier this week, I ran into Jesus on Facebook. I was scrolling aimlessly through my news feed, and saw that my friend Rev. Tisha Brown, who pastors a UCC church up in Madison, had posted a video with this note: “This is incredible – not only feeding but loving the poor. I wish I was […]

Sing A New Song! A Poem and Sermon for Advent

Editor’s Note: With many clergy spending time in the summer focusing on Advent and Christmas preparations, Sunday Morning and Beyond is featuring a poem and sermon from Advent to help get those creative worship juices flowing.  Happy Planning! Sing a New Song! Mary’s song – Luke 1 & Hannah’s song – 1 Samuel 2 Isaiah’s […]

The Art of Worship Planning

Worship planning is an art. It’s a discipline. It must be done over and over and over again in order to get worship “under our skin.” How we plan worship reflects what we believe worship should be — a transformative, communal experience of observing, trusting, trying, reflecting, and taking chances for the sake of experiencing […]

The Details of Advent

by Lara Blackwood Pickrel When I was a little girl, Advent was my absolute favorite time of year. It is true that part of the excitement had to do with the promise of gifts under the tree – but my love for the season went far beyond a desire for presents. Looking back, it is […]

Sanctuary Art

The sanctuary of our historic church was intentionally redesigned in the late 1960’s to recapture the “blank slate” of a traditional, Reformed worship space. When you walk into the sanctuary, it feels like a special place of worship. The challenge we face, however, is in capturing the imaginations of generations that are increasingly visual. We […]

Advent Prayer

Lord God, God of beginnings, and endings, God of the past, God of the future, God of judgment, and God of grace, God of waiting, and God of fulfillment: Fulfill in us the coming of Christ. May we, O God, Like Mary, treasure and guard the coming of your kingdom deep within us Nourishing it […]

Reflections on Advent: A Way of Peace

As we move toward the already-and-not-yet of Advent, we celebrate Christ’s birth so long ago even as we know that Christ must be born in us again and again. Countless artists over the centuries have portrayed Advent themes and scenes. These block prints by Mary Allison Cates weave together the personal and the political with […]