By Grace Gaddy
President Ken Starr will speak about the hope and light of Christ during the last Chapel session of the year, which will feature a special service of liturgical traditions to celebrate Christ’s coming with the season of Advent.
The service coincides with not only the dawn of the Advent season, but also amid a flurry of impending final exams and projects.
Chapel coordinator Jared Slack said he hopes students, faculty and all members of the Baylor family will come together and take a few moments to slow down, experience the hope of the season and reflect on God’s faithfulness.
“Advent literally means ‘coming,’ and so we at Chapel and at Spiritual Life want to invite our students to immerse themselves in the truly cosmic scope of Christ’s coming into the world,” Slack said, noting that “in the birth of Jesus, God is literally … breaking into our world to redeem us.”
But the season is not to be rushed, he said, since it celebrates a time of longing and anticipation.
It’s about “waiting and hoping and longing for the king to come and rescue us,” Slack said, referencing the Old Testament accounts of the people of Israel. They longed for a Messiah to come forth and free them, to lead them out of exile.
Similarly, in the midst of brokenness and neediness, one “must learn to long for [God’s] advent,” Slack said, which is Jesus breaking into our own lives and “coming alongside us each day.”
According to the Christian Resource Institute/Voice website, which provides biblical and theological resources for learning, the season of Advent marks a special time on the liturgical church calendar — the “beginning of the church year for most churches in the Western tradition.” The season progresses with a building of anticipation, marked by the four Sundays leading up to Christmas Day.
“We want to connect the Baylor community to all that the church [around] the world is doing,” Slack explained. “We already do this a number of ways by offering diverse expressions of worship on Wednesdays. We also try to teach [students] about the Christian calendar.”
The Advent service is an example of this, contributing to students’ education as well as to Baylor’s commitment to faith and learning.
The program will observe celebrated church traditions of the Advent season, such as the lighting of the candles in the Advent wreath, Slack said.
There will also be a time for inspired readings and hymns of worship, all in observance of Christ’s birth.
Marshall freshman Ross Tarpley will contribute to that observance, giving listeners a chance to transcend the moment by his singing of the hymn “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.”
“I feel honored to be a part of the service,” Tarpley said. “I like the song because it provides this hope that the Messiah is here, and it says, ‘O come, O come, Emmanuel and ransom captive Israel, that mourns in lonely exile here until the Son of God appear’. . . And so it’s this sense that Israel has been waiting a long time for the Messiah to come, and now they have a reason to celebrate.”
Tarpley called the Advent season a time of excitement, a time to rejoice in the fulfillment of Christ’s coming.
Slack said he hopes the entire campus will attend the service, describing it as “an invitation to anyone and everyone.”
“Please come and hear from our president,” Slack said. “Let’s celebrate together, and let’s spend some time in worship together. [It’s] really for us [to] finish our semester well, and then start off the season of Advent well.”