by Melinda Hamilton
We at Holy Trinity, Pensacola, are always looking for ways to deepen the meaning of Advent. There is the Nativity scene, the children’s pageant, and the gifts and devotions, but this year I prayed, and suddenly a new way to celebrate Advent was right in front of me.
It starts with a little booklet called “Hark the Glad Sound” by Barry Bob. I am not a musical person, but this little book caught my eye. It contains Advent meditations based upon twelve Advent carols.
Since there are twelve carols but only four weeks in Advent, I decided to expand Advent to six weeks, starting the season early in order to study two carols each week. Our group begins begin by praying for enlightenment, and then, guided by the booklet, we read the carol and learn about it. As an example, from the carol “In the Bleak Midwinter” we learn what to give Christ---our love as he loves us. “What Child is This” helps us look at how Jesus came to us in a poor and lowly state and then to ask ourselves who he is that all should bow before him. After discussing the insights associated with the carol, we play it on my Amazon Kindle (Josh Grogan sings an incredibly moving version of “What Child is This”). It takes some time to “google” and find the version of the song I most like, but this search is also an enjoyable part of the preparation for the weekly devotion. If you have someone who plays a musical instrument, you may not need the Kindle. We have such a parishioner who, upon her return from Europe in a few days, will play for us. Meanwhile, I have found beautiful renditions online. Listening quietly to them on my Kindle is very moving.
Meditating on only two carols per week allows time to close with prayers by each of us opening our hearts to the Lord. It is one hour each week that we can draw away from the stress and strain of our busy lives to focus on the Lord and become refreshed by his loving Grace.
The booklet “Hark the Glad Sound” can be found in the 2015 Advent Church Resource Catalog. It can also be found online at “creativecommunications.com” or by calling (800) 325-9414.
Melinda Hamilton worships at Holy Trinity, Pensacola