Ephesians Artwork

Person: Benjamin Rogers

We commissioned Benjamin Rogers to create an original art piece for our series in Ephesians. Benjamin is a full-time instructor of art at Red Rocks Community College. He has an MFA in painting from Arizona State University and his work has been exhibited across the country. He based his work for this piece on several arguments from the text. Here’s how he describes it…

Piece & Process

In creating this piece, I tried to visually connect some of the themes present in Ephesians. Many of these themes are somewhat unrelated in subject matter, so I had to develop a way to allude to them in a tangential manner. This essay isn’t intended to explain 100% of the meaning within this piece, but simply to give you some insight into my thought process.

Ephesians 2:19–21 talks about people in the church as “…no longer being aliens and strangers but members of the household of God”. This led me to use vastly different imagery within the same piece in a way that felt cohesive. The resultant image is almost collage-like, but the overall feeling, if nothing else, emphasizes the colorful top layer over top of the monochromatic(ish) layers underneath. This visually communicates a theme of blossoming, new life, as if waking from a dream.

The bottom visual layer is a pattern made from the life cycle of the cicada. I used the cicada’s life cycle because they remain under the ground for 17 years as nymphs, then emerge and molt their shell and live in the light of day for a couple of weeks and die. This process of climbing out of the ground and living in the light reminded me of Ephesians 4:22–24. This was the inspiration for painting moths and butterflies, as well as the life cycles of a frog and monarch butterfly. The bottom and top layers act as conceptual bookends illustrating the same concept. However, one is generally thought of as beautiful while the other is generally thought of as gross. I really like this dichotomy and think that it is pretty illustrative of human institutions.

Ephesians 4:1–16 immediately alludes to a physical body, which only functions properly when all organs work together in unity. This illustration of the workings of the church body is a beautiful analogy, because it demonstrates that there is a lot of unappealing, unappreciated work that is necessary for the Church to flourish. My goal was to illustrate anatomical renderings of some essential human organs, some whose function is obvious and well known and others which aren’t as recognizable or well-understood. I used the implied line to demonstrate the working relationship between them.

Perhaps the least recognizable theme illustrated in the painting is that of submission, which arises in Ephesians 5:22 and 6:1–9. My thinking on the theme of submission is that items are to be placed in their proper order. To depict this, I used a spiral staircase, because if the stairs aren’t laid in the correct order then the structural integrity is compromised. If people aren’t willing to submit themselves to the appropriate authority, whatever or whomever that is, then the system is compromised and may fall apart. The staircase also acts as a static visual anchor for the rest of the imagery on the painting. It provides a structure through which the rest of the visual elements can interact.

Bread & Wine 2017 Recap

An evening to taste and see the glory of God through His good creation.

Where the person of God is enjoyed through wine, food, and conversation.

On Tuesday, December 5, Park Church hosted its fifth annual Bread & Wine event at Moss Denver. Each year, we create a space where the eyes of our hearts are opened to the beauty of our Creator. How do we do that? By turning our attention to a specific element that God has gifted us for our enjoyment, to be used as a unique way to illuminate how we can relate to God. This year the focus was music. Music is a marvelous conductor that uses the “instruments” of melody, notes, and sounds to create a symphony that our hearts are drawn to, pointing to the ultimate Musician, God Himself. Bach said, “I play the notes as they are written, but it is God who makes the music.”

We see the centrality of music in the life of God’s people throughout history. After crossing the Red Sea, the Israelites sang with joyful hearts to give thanks—a jubilant cheer of crying out to God for what He had done. We find trumpeters and musicians joining in song to praise God (2 Ch. 5:13), and a call from Paul to sing and make music from our hearts (Ep. 5:19). This night recognized the importance of music as an instrument for us all to create and creatively respond to our Father.

So what happened at Bread & Wine?
The event started off with a hang-out time where people came in, poured their wine, and enjoyed appetizers and socializing while Bruce Butler played a live instrumental set. Across the beautiful setting of Moss Denver, we had Jennie Pitts display her artworks that added to the splendor of the atmosphere. Jennie was introduced and spoke a bit about her artwork and her inspiration behind them.

Following this, we had Nicole Langford perform a musical piece on the viola. The piece was introduced with poetry that reflected how the artist experienced the beauty of the composition. Lights were turned off to enhance the focus of listening. This moved into a discussion time, where people were encouraged to ask various questions to each other about what they experienced, including other questions about the way we engage with music.

As the conversations dwindled down, we proceeded into a Q&A panel with Nicole and Matthew Langford, Joel Limpic, and Bruce Butler. They were asked asked about being musical artists, why music matters, how faith impacts our ability to create and listen to music, should there be specific music we do or don’t listen to, etc.

Together, led by Mark Wilkins, many joined in worship to close out the night with “This Is My Father’s World”, “Great Are You Lord”, and the “Doxology”.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow indeed! May we be a people who respond to His gifts with fire in our hearts to listen, enjoy, and sing to our creative Triune God who sings over us.

Credits: Blog, video & photography created by Jacques Gerber, our arts intern at Park Church.

Advent 2017 Artwork

Person

Jeremy Grant is an emerging artist and award-winning graphic designer. He was born in California in 1985. He studied Graphic Design and Illustration at John Brown University. Grant has exhibited his collage and assemblage work regularly across Colorado since 2008. An active member of local arts communities, Jeremy has been invited to participate in numerous group shows, donated art to charity, and been awarded a PPAC micro-grant. His work explores themes of destruction and creation, death and resurrection, and chaos and familiarity. Jeremy Grant currently lives and works in Denver, Colorado.

Piece

Isaiah 40Mark 1

Often during Advent, I contemplate the calling of John the Baptist—“to prepare the way of the LORD,” and to “make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” This calling feels just as relevant for us as it was for him.

The people of God had been waiting for Messiah, their Savior King, for hundreds of years. Generations upon generations had lived and died and not seen the promise fulfilled.

John’s prophetic calling took him on a difficult path through the desert to preach a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. John was asked to clear the path for the coming Messiah, Jesus.

The scriptures that refer to this calling paint a picture where “every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low.”

The subject of the piece is a landscape that visualizes the work of John the Baptist—the transition from rough, mountainous terrain to open plains is making smooth the way of the LORD. The mountains are cut from pieces that I felt had a sense of static and a feeling of brokenness. We still live in a broken reality. Some brokenness is obvious and agonizing, and other times brokenness is characterized by the monotony of existence—the lack of joy, color, and celebration.

The extra-long proportion of the piece is meant to convey the passage of time, a sense of waiting and of a long journey still ahead. The dark to light transition hints at the coming sunrise, our current reality is dim, but the bright light of the coming messiah is a dawn on the horizon.

Click on an image below to enlarge.

The complete, final piece:

The sequential pieces, with Advent 2017 sermon series titles:

Process

Hand-cut paper collage inspired by the themes of the season of Advent.

At first, I sought to express brokenness through fragmented pieces—tiny windows into pain. Ultimately, this felt a little one-dimensional and I left it in favor of the landscape idea which had a more rich meaning (see final artwork above).

In another early concept, I envisioned cracks and a shattered pattern getting less and less cracked -the color getting brighter and brighter as the collage progressed. U;timately, I felt like it was—again—less robust of an idea, and cracks don’t really “heal themselves.” It’s difficult to express that idea, even though I liked the graphic potential of it.

Lastly, an image of the final collage in-process, before I added the pink squares. The squares sort of came to symbolize markers in the passage of time, little ebeneezers if you will.

Holy Week 2017 Artwork

Our artwork for Holy Week (Palm Sunday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday) were done by Bruce Butler. Bruce is usually seen at Park Church either co-leading his Gospel Community or playing electric guitar as we worship through singing. However, by trade he’s a graphic designer and he agreed to work with us to illustrate these three critical days in our Christian Calendar year. Read the following, written by Bruce, to learn more about the artist and his art.

Who I am

I am a graphic designer and musician from the East Coast. In 2012, I moved to Denver from Buffalo, New York to be closer to family and began designing for WorldVenture, a missions organization in Littleton, CO. I’m currently designing for Olsson Associates, a civil engineering consulting firm in Golden. I co-lead a Gospel Community near Sloans Lake and, in my free time, I enjoy playing music, cooking with friends, and spending time with my nieces and nephew. You can see more of my work by following me on Instagram at @madebybruce or visit madebybruce.com.

Piece

Biblically, the word “hand” represents an ownership, power, or control yielded by its owner. In each of the pieces, I used this “hand” imagery to illustrate humanity’s role in Holy Week, as well as the underlying tone of each day. The trapezoid is meant to represent a triangle with one side missing, highlighting one of the most overwhelming aspects of Easter: that Jesus not only stepped out of the infinite to become man, but that on the cross He chose to break eternal communion with the Trinity to take on the wrath of God that we deserved.

For Palm Sunday, Jesus was ushered in to shouts of “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Mark 11:9) with the waving of palm branches. But this celebration was the beginning of a storm brewing. By the end of this week, these same people were calling for His blood. The hand waving the branch represents the world—and even the Church—often worshipping who we want God to be, and not whom He has revealed Himself to be.

For Good Friday, we are reminded that our redemption came at a great cost. The storm that had started earlier that week erupted on Friday. After having been seized, beaten, and given a rigged trial the previous night, Jesus willingly continued his walk to the cross. Without getting into the gory details, flogging was a barbaric act that most victims didn’t survive. Though it was not the hands of the religious leaders holding the whips, when the crowd chose to release Barabbas and crucify Christ, their ownership in Christ’s death was stamped over the whole event.

And lastly and most importantly, with Easter we celebrate that He’s alive; that despite our misplaced worship and rebellion, He used His ownership, power, and control to run after us and pay the debt we owe. The storm has been broken up by the light. In seeing Jesus’ open, nail-scarred hand we are reminded that we play no part in earning our place before God, but it is offered as a gift.

Click on an image below to enlarge.

Process

When asked to create this piece, it was a bit daunting knowing this is the event that is the culmination of our beliefs as well as something millions try to artistically reinvent yearly. The idea of it being based on hands and ownership came before choosing which style I would attempt. Because of the “grittiness” of Easter week, I decided to lean more towards a textured, illustrated style. Though I usually favor more digital art, I was inspired by artists like Dave Quiggle and Sam Larson to broaden my technique and include vivid colors, textures, outlined strokes, and hand drawn techniques like stippling. I started in Adobe Illustrator, making thin templates for the branch, hands, and whip, and printed them. I then added the detail in pen and also did an entire page of just clouds and lightning. I imported these into Photoshop by taking a picture with my phone and erasing the background white layer.

The rest was done in photoshop using several textures.

Click on an image below to enlarge.

Bread & Wine 2016 Event Recap

Around 300 of us gathered at Moss Denver on November 30 to celebrate our fourth annual Bread & Wine event.

Why do we return to this celebration year after year?

Our tagline for Bread & Wine is as follows: An evening to taste and see the glory of God through his good creation. Let’s unpack this a bit.

Think back to the last meal Jesus shared with his group of disciples before his crucifixion. There in the upper room, God incarnate grabbed two of the most basic elements of mealtime – bread and wine. And with a couple sentences he breathed new meaning into them: “Take and eat; this is my body… Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”

Jesus selected common elements to represent the drastically uncommon – God’s reconciliation of His people to Himself through the labor of His Son.

But wait. Could there be another layer of import woven into Jesus’ actions that night?

It’s fascinating that Jesus chose elements that required human activity and involvement in order to create. Truth be told, he could have used barley instead of bread, grapes instead of a Grenache. His selected symbols for his sacrifice on the cross could have been items that exist within untouched creation, apart from the work of people.

But they weren’t. He chose bread and wine – elements that necessarily require the work of human minds and hands – to represent his reconciling work, work that actually created the family of God.

This demonstrates the value God places upon the activity to which he has called us. Certainly, the sovereign Lord of the cosmos is Himself working salvation for his namesake through the narrative of human history. And yet, he knits our individual and localized stories into this grand narrative, ushering us to play our part in restoring all things through our daily actions.

In short, God’s redemptive and unifying grace is communicated and established through human interaction with one another and the created order. And it is in these places that we see the very glory of God. But only if we’re looking for it.

That’s why we host Bread & Wine each year. We need regular reminders to experience our dynamic world as one that is “charged with the grandeur of God.” These reminders need be more than verbal; oftentimes we need embodied practices to teach our souls what our intellect may already grasp.

This particular evening we highlighted the role and reality of hospitality in the renewed Christian family. You see, this “bread” was broken for us, and this “wine” was poured out for our sins, that we may be brought near to our Father. Like the prodigal son from Luke 15, we have run away from the Author of Truth, Beauty, and Goodness in order to glut ourselves on cheap substitutes. But through the meal of Jesus’ body and blood, we are recreated into the family of God.

Now, compelled by this infinite hospitality shown to us, may we step into our daily lives portraying this same gracious welcome, making use of the material things at our disposal to sacrificially love those around us.

What a beautiful, merciful, and creative God we serve!

Photos of the event taken by Melanie Fenwick.

Advent Fasting Guide—Week Four

Below are some ways to engage with God during this season of Advent, particularly through reading, praying, and singing. We pray that God meets us in these disciplines! If you want to read about why we’re in a season of fasting during Advent, read “A Call To Fasting During Advent”.

Read
Isaiah 58:1-12 | Micah 6:8

Pray
This week we want to encourage you to do a prayer walk either in your neighborhood or by your work or school. What’s a prayer walk? It is what it sounds like: praying while walking. We’re used to associating prayer with a closet or a church sanctuary, not city streets. Some have described prayer walking as “on-site intercession” or praying “on-site with God’s sight.” It helps us pray in a new way in the neighborhood God has placed us, seeing new things we might never have seen, and immediately bring them before God in prayer. It breaks us out of our routines and gets us out of the church’s four walls. It reminds us our neighbors are real people and there are real issues to talk to God about for our neighborhood. God’s heart is to see His kingdom come and His will be done in the Highlands as it is in heaven, and prayer is one of the main ways we participate in His work!

While you can always prayer walk alone, we encourage you to go in groups of two (or three max). Before heading out, pray for the leading of the Spirit as well as spiritual protection and insight as you go! Briefly plan where you are going to walk, but don’t be afraid of adjusting that as you walk. Remember that as you go, don’t be creepy & don’t make a scene. It’s also helpful to re-group once you come back to discuss what God might have spoken or done while you were out praying. Here are a few directives as you go:

  • Pray Scripture. While not necessary, some choose to pick a particular Scripture to pray as they walk. You can even read the Scripture out loud and then expand on that passage in your own words.
  • Pray out loud. Proclaim and speak out the rule and reign of Jesus over dark places. Jesus is Lord even if those in the neighborhoods don’t recognize Him as such.
  • Pray as the Spirit leads. He might give you discernment, a word of knowledge, or insight into something that you can pray about. Be responsive to whatever He might be speaking.
  • Pray aware of your surroundings. This includes people as well as your senses. Observe houses, buildings, posters, signs, graffiti, anything that might direct your prayers. If God opens the opportunity for a conversation with someone, engage with them telling them that you’re walking around praying for the neighborhood and ask them if you could pray for them.

Sing
This week we’ll be singing through a song based on this idea of and longing for justice written by Sojourn Music called “Let Justice Roll Like A River”. It’s a prayer of corporate confession, a prayer of intercession asking God to bring about His justice, as well as a personal prayer for God to use us as His instruments of justice and love.

Let Justice Roll Like a River?
Forgive us, Lord, for passing by when children cry for bread
?Forbid it, Lord, that justice lie in tatters, cold and dead?
Outside these walls run desperate streets where greed is law and life is cheap?
We bar the doors, refuse to see, or hear the words You said:

Let justice roll like a river, like a river let it roll (2x)

Convict us, Lord, we dance and laugh ignoring those who weep?
Correct us, Lord, our golden calf has lulled our hearts to sleep?
The gap between the rich and poor grows ever wider, shore to shore?
There’s racial hate, religious war and wolves among the sleep

Indwell us, Lord, and purify our hands to work for You?
Enlist us, Lord, to serve nearby and ‘cross the waters, too?
Your image-bearers on the earth will never know how much they’re worth?
Unless we love and help them first and show the way to You

Let it roll (4x)

Advent Fasting Guide—Week Three

Below are some ways to engage with God during this season of Advent, particularly through reading, praying, and singing. We pray that God meets us in these disciplines! If you want to read about why we’re in a season of fasting during Advent, read “A Call To Fasting During Advent” at http://www.parkchurchdenver.org/blog/post/a-call-to-fast-during-advent.

Read
Matthew 28:18-20 | Acts 1:8

Pray
This week we’re going to focus in on praying the Bible. Often we struggle to find the words to say to God, and this method or prayer utilizes Scripture as an aim in informing and directing our prayers. This can be done both alone as well as with others! Feel free to meet up with the same person you met last week or pray with someone new.

It’s highly simple: let the words of Scripture become the words of your prayers. For example, if you pray through Psalm 23, read “The Lord is my shepherd,” and thank Him for being your shepherd. Ask Him to shepherd your family that day, to guide, protect, and provide for them. Pray that He will make your family members His sheep; that they will look to Him as their shepherd. Ask Him to shepherd you through the decision you must make about your future. Pray for Him to bless the undershepherd at your church, shepherding him as he shepherds the church, etc. When nothing else comes to mind, go to the next line—“I shall not want”—and continue to pray.

Simply go through the passage, line-by-line, praying what you find in the text or what it brings to mind. If nothing comes to mind, or if you don’t understand the verse, go to the next. You might choose to linger long on one verse. Conversely, there may be only a handful of matters that prompt prayer as you go through many verses. Nothing says you have to pray over every verse. Continue in this way until (1) you run out of time, or (2) you run out of Psalm (or Bible).

Here are a few other things you could pray and ask God for:

  • Praise Jesus who holds all authority on heaven and earth!
  • That we would be disciples who love & obediently follow Jesus
  • For your neighborhood, workplace, & schools
  • Pray for church plants/missionaries that Park Church supports:
  • Nationally – Marottas in Richmond, McLaughlins in Knoxville, Morginskys in Denver
  • Internationally – Bartols in the Czech Republic, Procopios in Paris, and the Perezs in Spain
  • That we would be filled with the Spirit to boldly witness of Jesus

Sing
Contrary to popular belief, Isaac Watts’ aim in writing “Joy To The World” was not to write a beautiful Christmas hymn, but rather an Advent hymn on the return of Jesus based on Psalm 98. He even gave the song this heading: “The Messiah’s Coming and Kingdom.” Would we be a people who long for our King’s return and who will “come and make the blessings flow far as the curse is found”!

Joy To The World
?Joy to the world the Lord is come, let earth receive her King
?Let every heart prepare Him room?
And heav’n and nature sing, and heav’n and nature sing?
And heav’n and heaven and nature sing

Joy to the world, the Savior reigns, let men their songs employ?
While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains?
Repeat their sounding joy, repeat their sounding joy
?Repeat repeat their sounding joy

He rules the world with truth and grace? and makes the nations prove?
The glories of His righteousness
And wonders of His love,? and wonders of His love
And wonders, wonders of His love

No more will sin and sorrow grow nor thorns infest the ground?
He’ll come and make the blessings flow?
Far as the curse was found, far as the curse was found?
Far as, far as the curse was found

Advent 2016 Artwork

About the Artwork

You may have noticed the artwork for The Coming of the King: Advent & Christmas—the two banners on the sides of the stage and the design on your bulletin and on the screen during the service. If you were here last year, you may have already picked up on the fact that it’s all very similar to the artwork for God With Us, our Advent 2015 series. You’re correct.

Last year we worked with Jeremy Grant, an incredible designer and collage artist, to create that work. This year, we’ve taken Jeremy’s art from last year and, with his permission, “remixed” it for The Coming of the King. Why did we choose to do this? Here’s what Jeremy writes about the original piece:

Purple and dark blue colors symbolize waiting and longing, and are the traditional colors of Advent. These darker areas (collaged from images of evening, twilight, deserts and water) show the brokenness and chaos of our world as they cut back and forth sharply.

Lighter colors (collaged from images of clouds and morning light) symbolize Jesus, the “light of the world,” cutting through darkness and chaos to bring light and peace. Little stabs of pink color represent joy.

There are two banners, representing Jesus’ comings to earth. Jesus, the messiah, has already come down to earth (as a child in Bethlehem) fulfilling the longing of the prophets and people of God from centuries past. And Jesus, the master of the cosmos, has promised he will return to earth again. So we look back, and remember what he has done. And we look forward with eager anticipation to what he will do next.

Whereas last year the lighter colors were in the shape of a sunburst, symbolizing the great shock and “thrill of hope” that is Christ actually among—God With Us—this year the lighter colors make a crown. Not too much of a stretch for a series entitled The Coming of the King, right? Why use something so obvious?

The lordship of Jesus Christ, although “obvious” to His followers, is certainly not obvious enough—not even to His followers! Do we understand that, in all of our darkness, in the valley of the shadow of death, in sin and error pining, a King has come and rescued us? Do we prepare Him room in our hearts to be the actual King? His crown is not symbolic, and His authority is over a real kingdom whose increase will never end.

Lastly, at the point of each crown is dot. Three of the four dots are purple and one is pink, symbolizing the advent candles that traditionally symbolize the four weeks of Advent leading up to Christmas Eve. In an Advent wreath, these four candles surround a larger, white “Christ candle” to be lit on Christmas Eve. In our illustration, the white crown stands in for the Christ candle, supporting those four other points.

About the Artist

Jeremy Grant is an award-winning artist and graphic designer. His collages and found-object assemblages have been exhibited in solo and juried shows across Colorado and Arkansas. Jeremy is married to an author, has two beautiful babies and loves Jesus, bourbon and robots. You can check out more of his work at jeremygrantcreative.com.

Advent Fasting Guide—Week Two

Below are some ways to engage with God during this season of Advent, particularly through reading, praying, and singing. We pray that God meets us in these disciplines! If you want to read about why we’re in a season of fasting during Advent, read “A Call To Fasting During Advent”.

Read
Ephesians 4:1-16 | John 17:20-23

Pray
This week we encourage you to meet up with someone, perhaps a roommate, spouse, or someone in your Gospel Community, to pray with utilizing conversational prayer (taken from Redeemer Presbyterian Church). As you pray with this other person, use the style of conversational prayer. It differs from what we often experience in group prayer: talking in detail about our prayer requests so that there is little time left to pray, or praying in one long monologue after another. Conversational prayer recognizes that prayer is dialogue, conversing in prayer not only with God but also with others present. As we pray, we invite and expect the Holy Spirit to be praying with us as well, guiding and edifying our prayers among us. This style of prayer also emphasizes the art of listening — to the Holy Spirit and to one another. Its use of short, focused prayers prevents anyone from dominating with long, lofty monologues or covering all the prayer requests in one breath.

Begin the prayer time with adoration, praising God for who He is. Think of an attribute and characteristic of God that relates to the topic, so you can build upon that. When a topic is complete, it will be clear by silence. Wait for someone else to present a new topic in prayer, or pose one yourself. Keep each prayer short (1-3 sentences) and focused on just one thought. Listen actively to and pray silently with the person praying. Discipline yourselves to not think about what you’ll pray next. Build upon the prayers of one another, as in conversation, so that you are knitting the short prayers into a broader and deeper one. Silence is okay! Rest in it. Don’t rush to fill it. Anyone can continue praying within the same topic, or move onto the next one. Don’t close each short prayer in “Jesus’ name, amen.” This fosters continuity and the leader will close the entire prayer time at the end. If a scripture comes to mind, do pray it. This is often how the Holy Spirit edifies our prayers. As you pray, also bring in His promises, commands, and desires. Doing so will help guide and transform your requests. Use everyday language. Pray spontaneously, not necessarily in order. Pray loud enough for the other person to hear you.

Here are a few other things you could pray and ask God for:

  • That Park Church and the Church in Denver would be united
  • That we would each know our gifts as individuals as well as our roles in seeking the maturity of the body of Christ
  • Pray through lines from “O Come O Come Emmanuel” – (i.e. “Bid Thou our sad divisions cease…” Where are there divisions? Pray for unity and reconciliation.)

Sing
“O Come O Come Emmanuel” is a translation of a Latin hymn “Veni, Veni, Emmanuel” which was a paraphrase of the “O Antiphons.” The “O Antiphons” (also known as “The great O’s”) have been used for over twelve centuries during the final week of Advent in monasteries & convents just before the Magnificat (Mary’s song found in Luke 1:46-55). Each verse highlights a different biblical name for Jesus: Wisdom, Adonai (or Lord), Root of Jesse, Key of David, Dayspring or Radiant Dawn, King of Nations (or of the Gentiles), Emmanuel. If you’re looking for a version of the song to listen to, click here.

O Come O Come Emmanuel?
O come, O come, Emmanuel and ransom captive Israel?
That mourns in lonely exile here until the Son of God appear

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer our spirits by Thine advent here
?And drive away the shades of night and pierce the clouds and bring us light

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel

O come, Desire of nations, bind in one the hearts of all mankind
?Bid Thou our sad divisions cease and be Thyself our King of Peace

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free Thine own from Satan’s tyranny?
From depths of Hell Thy people save and give them victory o’er the grave

O Come, Thou Wisdom from on high and order all things far and nigh?
To us the path of knowledge show and cause us in her ways to go

Advent Fasting Guide—Week One

Below are some ways to engage with God during this season of Advent, particularly through reading, praying, and singing. We pray that God meets us in these disciplines! If you want to read about why we’re in a season of fasting during Advent, click here.

Read
Psalm 63 | Matthew 6:31-33

Pray
This week we encourage you to practice “listening prayer.” We often monologue in prayer before God without even taking time to listen. Similar to the directive Eli gave to Samuel in 1 Samuel 3, speak to the Lord and tell Him you are listening. Then actually take time to do it! It might be a couple minutes, it might be 10 minutes. You might get distracted during this time… That’s ok! The goal is to try to listen; not listen perfectly.

Don’t rush on to other things, but slow down and enjoy God’s presence! He is with you. Meditate on that amazing truth. If God seems to speak or remind you of anything, write that down in your journal or phone! It might be a simple phrase or word, a passage of Scripture, a picture or vision. Pay attention to the small things! Consider praying the prayer below from AW Tozer:

O God, I have tasted Thy goodness,
and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more.
I am painfully conscious of my need of further grace.
I am ashamed of my lack of desire.
O God, the Triune God, I want to want Thee;
I long to be filled with longing;
I thirst to be made more thirsty still.
Show me Thy glory, I pray Thee, that so I may know Thee indeed.
Begin in mercy a new work of love within me.
Say to my soul, “Rise up, any love, my fair one, and come away.”
Then give me grace to rise and follow Thee up
from this misty lowland where I have wandered so long.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Here are a few other things you could pray and ask God for:

  • A renewed hunger and devotion for Him
  • A greater experience of His presence with you in this season of Advent both individually and as a church when we gather
  • An increasing awareness of sin and a heart that’s quick to repent
  • That we would be a people who seek first His kingdom here in Denver
  • Anyone you know who’s going through a hard time or whose heart might be cold, shut off, apathetic, or complacent

Sing
This week’s song is “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus,” written by Charles Wesley in 1744. It was written in response to Wesley’s observation of orphans around him as well as the class divide in Great Britain and his longing for Jesus to mend those things.

We’ll be singing through the Rain For Roots version that you can find here. As you sing the song, ask God to increase your longing for Him in this season. Where do you need to be set free today? What are you afraid of? Turn to Jesus for rest!

Come Thou Long Expected Jesus
Come, thou long expected Jesus, born to set thy people free
From our fears and sins release us, let us find our rest in Thee
Israel’s strength and consolation, Hope of all the earth thou art
Dear desire of every nation, joy of every longing heart

Born Thy people to deliver, born a child and yet a King
Born to reign in us forever, now Thy gracious kingdom bring
By Thine own eternal Spirit Rule in all our hearts alone
By Thine all sufficient merit, raise us to Thy glorious throne

We are waiting, we are waiting, we are waiting for you (4x)
Hallelujah, what a Savior!