By Bridget Sjoberg | Staff Writer
Many members of the Baylor community are familiar with the popular Christmas on Fifth tradition taking place on Thursday night, but not all know that Baylor also rings in the Christian season of Advent by hosting two services filled with music and prayer.
Two 40-minute Advent services took place at 6 and 7:30 p.m. Thursday night in Armstrong Browning Library. Carlos Colón, coordinator for worship initiatives at Baylor, described the services as ones of prayer and as times to reflect on Christ’s role in the world.
“The services happen very early, right at the beginning of the season of Advent,” Colón said. “Because of this, they will be more introspective and preparatory. A professor came one year and characterized the service as being penitential. People who come to the services speak very highly of the music, but I like to think of them as being even richer in prayer.”
The services are meant to celebrate the season of Advent, which Colón described as a time of preparation and anticipation for the upcoming Christmas season celebrating the birth of Christ.
“Advent means ‘coming,’ and this is a season where we anticipate the coming of Christ,” Colón said. “It’s the time that prepares us to celebrate Christmas. We pray and anticipate that one day, Christ will return for a second time and make all things right. Advent also has similarities to Lent — it too is a season of repentance where we prepare our hearts and the way of the Lord by praying, repenting and inviting God into our lives.”
Colón said the services are open to everyone in the Baylor and Waco community and mentioned that they occur around the same time as Christmas on Fifth, making them convenient to attend for those also participating in the popular tradition.
“The services are a very rich gathering of the body of Christ around Baylor and Waco,” Colón said. “There will be Protestants, Catholics, Orthodox Christians and more at the service, and we have a 17-piece choir leading the services, including Baylor students, high school students, professionals from the community and professors. It’s a very diverse group and this is a great time to experience a gathering of worship in a beautiful space.”
Along with the services, Baylor celebrated the beginning of the Advent season through Chapel’s Wednesday services. It was an interactive experience where students were invited up on stage to sing songs in worship like “Silent Night” and “O Come All Ye Faithful.”
Fairfax, Va., freshman Elyse Delano appreciated the Advent-themed Chapel as a time to reflect on the upcoming Christmas season amidst the business of the holidays.
“I think the goal of Chapel is to introduce students to ideas or aspects of religion they haven’t heard before,” Delano said. “By stressing the meaning of Christmas and its origins, students have a chance to reorient themselves if they’ve been focusing too much on the commercial aspects of Christmas.”
Colón views Wednesday’s Chapel services and Advent in general as a time to step back from the business of school and work life and focus on the hope that results from the coming of Christ.
“I attended one of the services and I thought that they were important for a Christian university and community to recognize that this season in an academic community is a time of business,” Colón said. “We take pauses like Chapel to worship God and allow him to invade our hearts with his presence. We hope students are reminded that God is in control in a present way, even when they feel overwhelmed.”