As a nine-year-old, I couldn’t wait for my first official birthday party. My mom and I planned and prepared weeks ahead of time. She taught me that even before we chose the party games and food for the party, we needed to write out the invitations.
For it is in the act of inviting others to join in the celebration that preparation follows. There is an intentionality and expectation in the act of inviting others to gather around. I like to call it the liturgy of invitation.
There is another season on the church calendar that begs for an invitation–Advent. It is during this time that we prepare for the birth of Jesus. But how differently would we approach this season if we were invited to follow this journey of Jesus?
Advent is derived from the word “Adventus” which means “coming”. During this season we anticipate and prepare for the birth of Jesus. By giving ourselves the gift of time to slow down and understand the story of Jesus, we create a space for expectancy and eventually adoration.
This year I am learning and exploring the idea that Advent includes four parts: Invitation, Preparation, Expectation, and Adoration. Today we will focus on the liturgy of invitation.
Why a liturgy?
Why am I calling it a liturgy?
I believe this time of year is sacred. When we walk together toward knowing Jesus in a deeper way, we find ourselves beginning where He began–as a baby. It was this event that set the course for who we are today.
As believers, we know the importance of following Jesus, but somewhere along the way, we were invited to join this journey. Take a minute to think about who, when, where, or how you received this invitation to follow Jesus.
Jesus began His ministry in a feeding trough created for animals. I imagine no one would describe the manger as one fit for the Savior of the World, but it was the perfect, unassuming beginning.
Two thousand years ago, God sent His only son to save the world through love, grace, and a message of peace. When Jesus first met Peter, James, and John, he invited them with these words–Come, follow me. Jesus personally invited the first disciples to join His ministry. Today we are invited by friends, church members, perhaps our parents, or other instrumental people in our lives.
The who does not matter as much as the why.
Invitations often lead to celebrations. Preparation walks alongside an invitation to allow for the details to fall into place. Expectation is the anticipatory set that keeps us motivated for as long as it takes to reach the final destination announced in the invitation. And Adoration is the pivotal step we take as we find ourselves celebrating what we planned and prepared for.
Advent begins today. For the last few years, we have met in this space to learn, prepare, and celebrate the coming of Jesus. Two years ago, I published The Advent Narrative: The Life You Didn’t Know You Were Already Living. I still find I am mystified and awed by this time of year.I believe this time of year is sacred. When we walk together toward knowing Jesus in a deeper way, we find ourselves beginning where He began–as a baby. It was this event that set the course for who we are today. Advent 2022 – Liturgy… Click To Tweet
Liturgy of Invitation
Wikipedia describes liturgy as A communal response to and participation in the sacred through activities reflecting praise, thanksgiving, remembrance, supplication, or repentance. It forms a basis for establishing a relationship with God.
Let’s begin this Advent season with a prayer to draw us deeper into relationship and invitation.
I invite you into this space. I pray for those people who are waiting for their own invitation to follow You. Lead me toward recognizing them and for the courage to invite them into this journey. Let my heart be open to receiving You and Your gift of new life.
As I begin this new season of Advent, may I intentionally choose to grow closer to You as I prepare for your coming, live in expectancy, and cherish your birth as the new beginning God gave to the world.
Father meet me here. Lead me ever closer to You. Draw me into quiet and adoration this Advent season. Amen.
After praying this prayer, continue to ask the Lord to meet you here in this space. Who will you invite here with you? How will you create a safe place where maybe your friend is meeting Jesus for the first time or is ready to explore what Advent can mean in his/her life?
Together let’s pray these words as an act of worship and as a liturgy of invitation.
Intentionally leaning in and choosing Jesus this Advent season!