Movement Approaches Advent, New Year with Anticipation

 In All Church of God, CHOG, Church of God Ministries

By Carl Stagner

The year 2021, for many, can’t come soon enough. Crisis after crisis, made worse by cultural upheaval and political tension, has the current year leaving a bitter aftertaste whenever we form the syllables to utter 2020. Perhaps that’s why mere mention of the approaching Christmas season has an unusually inspirational ring to it; people are exhausted and desperately need a soul-soothing silent night and simply be reminded that “God is not dead, nor doth he sleep—that the wrong shall fail, the right prevail….” With anticipation, congregations of the Church of God have already begun to prepare for Christ’s Birthday Observance. As they do, they’re discovering the result of divinely orchestrated collaboration in the exceptionally high caliber of resources for this year’s Advent.

A cursory glance at the volume and quality of Christ’s Birthday Observance 2020 materials easily captures the attention of pastors and worship leaders. In coordination with regional and local pastors, Christian Women Connection is rejoicing today in the development and compilation of the kind of resources most helpful, most relevant, and most timely for the local church of any size and culture in this critical moment of history. Kayla Harden, ministry coordinator of programming for CWC, explains.

“Last year, Christian Women Connection partnered with a group of regional pastors. The Southeast Regional Pastor group had been creating resources for churches for a couple of years. Their aim was to create resources that were both missional and liturgical. Christmas is a busy season for many, especially those who work in churches. Our partnership has enabled us to work together to continue their legacy, while also hosting the largest offering in the Church of God movement. Now we are able to help our churches here and support our missionaries, as well.”

“We are better together,” Kayla adds. “These materials reflect that.”

They certainly do. After dealing with changing pandemic restrictions, changing societal norms, and changing methods of doing church, pastors don’t need to be overwhelmed by yet one more thing this year—Christmas preparation. The Advent resources developed by Church of God pastors—for Church of God pastors—include sermons, sermon media, outreach ideas, Advent candlelight readings, worship service samples for traditional and contemporary gatherings, promotional graphics, small group materials, children’s ministry tools, and much more. Such ministry materials reflect excellence, as they point to Jesus Christ and his mission for the church to change the world. A welcome letter from Church of God Ministries general director Jim Lyon expounds.

“He who said, ‘Behold, I make all things new” (Revelation 21:5), is not in the business of keeping things the same. Jesus doesn’t just do change for change’s sake, though. He’s in the game of changing everything he touches for the better. Where there is darkness, he brings light. Where there is despair, he brings hope. Where there is ignorance, he brings knowledge. Where there is brokenness, he brings wholeness. Where there is injustice, he brings justice. Where there is shame, he brings forgiveness. Where there is death, he brings life. Christian Women Connection is leading the way this Christmas, as the Church of God embraces this truth that can empower us for the whole year: Jesus is the world-changer.”

And, since the accompanying offering supports such a broad swath of ministries of the Church of God movement, the compelling tug to participate in Christ’s Birthday Observance 2020 is hard to resist. Kayla Harden reflects.

“It’s no secret that 2020 has been a difficult year. Many of us are counting down to 2021, but before we get out of 2020, we will celebrate Christmas…. Celebrating Advent marks the waiting of the nation of Israel, as they longed for a Savior, a Messiah, to rescue them. Many of us are longing, as well. We find ourselves anticipating the day when we can return to ‘normal.’ The birth of Christ represents the fulfillment of God’s promises to his people. Emmanuel, God with us, had come to earth! The world would no longer be the same. Jesus, the world-changer, had brought hope. It is this hope that we cling to. When the world around us falls to chaos, the manger is a reminder that God is still in power.”

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