@story MARCUS COKER
St. John’s Episcopal Church in Fort Smith invites the community to join them this Sunday, December 4, at 5 p.m. for Lessons and Carols, a special service marking the beginning of the Advent season. Advent, the time period leading up to Christmas, begins the fourth Sunday before Christmas and has a twofold meaning. First, it represents the original waiting for the birth of Christ, and second, the waiting for His return.
Tim Hess, organist and choirmaster for St. John’s, says, “The service will be presented with scripture and song.” The scripture lessons will be read by Angela Covey and David Sims and will focus mainly on the expectation of the coming of Jesus. Between the lessons, music will be sung by both the church choir and the congregation. “We’ll sing Advent hymns like O Come, O Come Emmanuel and The King Shall Come When Morning Dawns,” says Tim. “We won’t do actual Christmas carols until Christmas Eve, because Advent is about before, the time leading up to Christmas.”
In addition to St. John’s choir, a few guest singers have been invited to participate in Lessons and Carols. Sopranos Dr. Sharon Kenney and Louann Dooly will sing I Will Magnify Thee, O Lord, and Cameron Law will sing Once in Royal David’s City. The service will both begin and end with organ music and prayer.
As participants enter the back of St. John’s this Sunday, many will be struck by its beauty. Built in 1900, the church has vaulted ceilings, supported by heavy beams that arch from one side of the church to the other. Stained-glass windows depict the birth of Christ, as well as His resurrection and ascension. Also notable will be unlit Chrismon tree—a variation of the Christmas tree—that is decorated with symbols of peace.
According to Tim, much of what St. John’s does is symbolic. Because Advent focuses on the time before the birth of Christ, the tree will remain unlit until the time of Christ’s birth. Once Christmas Eve comes, the tree will be lit as a symbol of celebration. Likewise, the nativity scene will be found this Sunday at the back of the church. As Advent progresses, the nativity will move closer to the front of the church, signifying the arrival of Christmas.
Lessons and Carols will last approximately an hour and will be followed by a reception in the Parish Hall. Nursery will also be provided.
For more information:
St. John’s Episcopal Church
215 North 6th Street
Fort Smith, AR 72901