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This year Christmas Eve falls on a Sunday.  Which always poses some issue for worship planning.  A few months ago, when the Worship Ministry discussed this year’s Advent and Christmas calendar, they made two decisions:

  1. On Christmas Eve we will have our normal Sunday morning worship at 10:30 that will thematically be a Christmas Eve service.  And we will have ONE evening service at 8 p.m. (which somewhat splits the difference between our usual Christmas Eve services at 6 and 11).
  2. We are going to begin Advent one week early.  Let me explain. Technically, the morning of December 24 would be the Fourth Sunday of Advent, but that really squeezes the worship season and means you either skip the 4th Sunday in that morning’s worship or have a service that isn’t a Christmas Eve service, though very few people are interested in coming to church twice on Dec. 24th.  So, this year we heard that some other churches were flexing their liturgical freedom and starting Advent a week early, and we decided we would too.  That week early is November 26, but that won’t be strange for us, because most years the First Sunday of Advent is that last Sunday of November, the Sunday after the Thanksgiving holiday.  So this schedule will actually be more like what we are used to anyway.

Now, what about theme?  This year our theme is “Holy Darkness.” 

Back in May, I was down at Urban Abbey for a meeting and bought a brand new children’s book God’s Holy Darkness.  Here is the description on the back of the book:

From the darkness at the beginning of Creation to the blackness of the sky on the night when Christ’s birth was announced, this captivating picture book deconstructs anti-Blackness in Christian theology by exploring instances in the story of God’s people when darkness, blackness, and night are beautiful, good, and holy.

I knew immediately I wanted to use this book and its stories to structure our Advent season this year, and the Staff heartily agreed.  Finding the book was timely, because at our Worship Ministry meeting back in the Spring, there was a discussion of how we need to be careful with imagery around Light because of our anti-racism commitments and how often our themes at Advent focus on Light.

So we will explore:

Advent 1, Nov. 26–God Works in Darkness–stories of creation, with special guest preacher, Pastor Darryl Brown Jr.

Advent 2, Dec. 3–God Dwells in Darkness–Jacob wrestles with God and we often experience God in a “dark night of the soul”

Advent 3, Dec. 10–God Saves in Darkness–the story of Passover

Advent 4, Dec. 17–God Speaks in Darkness–the child Samuel hears God at night, the angels sing to the shepherds at night

Christmas Eve, Dec. 24–God Loves in Darkness–the Nativity story


421 South 36th Street, Omaha Nebraska, 68131
(Located at the corner of 36th and Harney Streets)






First Central Congregational Church