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The 2nd Advent candle, The Bethlehem Candle, the Candle of Peace, will be lit today in services around Anchorage. Advent is a wonderful time of year to worship the coming King, reflect on the promises related to his promised coming, and to prepare one's heart for the celebration of the birth of a King.
My church visit today was to First UMC in downtown Anchorage. I was drawn in by an announcement in the Matters of Faith listings on Saturday. Pastor Ron Myers message was titled "Advent Conspiracy: Worship Fully". First UMC uses a traditional Methodist liturgy. This works for me, especially as many contemporary churches don't reveal the order of service in their bulletins. If they did, I think many people would walk out if they knew what was in store for them, especially the 1/2 hr. to 3/4 hr. trance concerts by their musical departments.
I walked into First UMC at 10:50 a.m., 10 minutes before church start. No one greeted me and the church was empty, except for the choir practicing in the choir loft. However I was greeted by several of the choir members and Pastor Ron Myers as they went to the back of the church prior to the service.
The Advent candle lighting was important to me as the couple officiating had an extended reading noting the significance of this act. I enjoyed Pastor Myers sermon which was revealing in it's recounting of the wonderful moments experienced in worship. He emphasized the connections between people worshiping together. Myers ended by wishing that his congregation would worship as one during this Christmas season. Advent season is characterized by heartfelt worship services like this. I'm glad I went.
I urge you to take in an Advent service this Sunday. Some churches offering Advent services were noted in the Matters of Faith page in Saturday's, Anchorage Daily News.