Advent is coming and there is never enough time to prepare for this season of preparation and waiting.
Never mind that the calendar year begins on January 1; whether one has children in school or not, church and community schedules revolve around the axis of the school year. Then in the midst of the whirlwind of activity that accompanies the start of everything from Sunday school to soccer, priests and pastors look up to discover the fast approaching start of a new church year.
What the congregation needs is an antidote to the frantic busy-ness and the consumer-driven pursuit for more and better things. Advent is just the cure, and so getting ready for this counter-culture kick off to the church year is vitally important. To assist with this, Abingdon Press has created a unique solution with sermons, liturgies (including prayers and litanies), music and images for projection – all on a handy little USB memory stick.
“Worship in a Flash” has packaged together a group of thoughtfully prepared resources. Sermons include two thematic sermon series along with lectionary-based preaching on all three years of the cycle. Full sermons on the Old Testament and epistle, as well as the gospel, provide a rich resource for those who, like most readers of Sermons That Work, find their own preaching enriched by engaging with full sermons prepared by others. As with any collection, the style and quality varies, but the editor has done an admirable job in working with differing voices to create a treasure trove of ideas fully fleshed out.
The USB drive was created by Abington Press, a Methodist publishing house, and so it is appropriate that the worship services in this collection fit well with that tradition, but they may be of less interest to Episcopal congregations. For example, the liturgies on the USB drive contain prayers of confession followed by words of assurance for each week, but don’t offer something comparable to the Book of Common Prayer’s Prayers of the People. However, the drive does contain well-considered music choices for the First Sunday of Advent through Epiphany.
The 143 images on the disk are beautiful and sharp, the bulk of the photos being nature scenes. They would work well with words added over them for a variety of PowerPoint presentations. Even if you do not use projectors in worship, those graphics might assist in preparing to teach during Advent.
The 61 sermons grouped largely by lectionary text are the true heart of these Advent resources. For Episcopalians, the “Worship in a Flash” services and images alone might not offer enough usable material to make this collection worth considering, but these sermons could be a godsend. As a resource for a busy preacher, these texts offer inspiring new ways to connect this season of preparation to the lives of the hearers. And it is an even more important resource to a small congregation that will often work its way through Advent with morning prayer led by lay readers.
— The Rev. Frank Logue is Canon to the Ordinary of the Diocese of Georgia.