The congregation of Zion welcomes you to this website. You can find a video about our congregation on the Worship page, and at the bottom of this page there is information about worship times and how to contact us.
Jesus is the center of Zion’s life. He is risen from the dead, and He is on a mission: to make disciples of all nations. A disciple is someone who learns from a teacher and follows in his way. Zion is a gathering of Jesus’ disciples.
That’s why mercy is a key word at Zion, and worship is our core activity. Jesus lives to show mercy to sinners as He meets and nourishes them at worship. That mercy sends us back to our homes and neighborhoods with a new life to live.
We invite you to receive and grow in that new life at Zion.
“Zion, City of Our God”
Choral Vespers for Advent welcoming Zion’s 150th Anniversary Year
Advent: The Season and Its Spirit
What St. John records in Revelation 22:20 summarizes the season and spirit of Advent: “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming
soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.” Advent, from the Latin adventus, means arrival, coming, or approach, and was used in the ancient world to describe the arrival of a king to his city.
Zion is the city of God (Psalm 48:1), making Zion a good name not only for a single congregation, but for the whole gathering of saints, what the tradition of the Church has sometimes called the Una Sancta (una = one, sancta = holy, from the creed: one holy catholic Church), both the saints in heaven and the saints on earth.
If the Church passes over Advent and rushes to Christmas and its more secular celebrations, it misses a great deal of good. Observing the season of Advent not only exercises our faith in God’s promises of His Son’s return. It also helps form Christian character, marked by those virtues often lacking in modern life: patience, hope, gratitude, kindness, and self-control.
It begins by decking the Church in blue or blue-violet and simplifying the Church’s rite of worship. Blue, long associated with the Virgin Mary, the bruises of Christ, and the dark sky just before dawn, evokes many aspects of hope and anticipation: an expectant mother, a faithful Son who trusts His cross to redeem the world, and a Church that trusts Him to turn darkness to light.
The Gloria, the Church’s chief hymn of praise (sung towards the start of worship, after the Kyrie) disappears. Why? The opening words of the Gloria come from the angels themselves at Christ’s first arrival at Bethlehem: “Glory to God in the highest, and peace to His people on earth” (Luke 2:13-14). We forego their happy song for just four weeks or less, remembering that we are still waiting for His even greater arrival.
A former pastor at the Church of St. Michael and St. George in Clayton, Missouri, described Advent well in his introduction to Christmas Eve vespers in 1996:
Advent is more representative of the Church’s life than any other season. In a very real sense, the Christian community lives in Advent all the time; it is “The Time Between” (W.H. Auden). The people of God live at the very frontier of the ages—The Time Between the first coming of Christ, incognito in the stable in Bethlehem, and His second coming in glory, to judge the living and the dead. In The Time Between, our lives are hidden with Christ in God; “when Christ, Who is our life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory” (Colossians 3:3-4).
Even as Christians live in a dark and darkening world, we keep vigil for the Light of Light, the Dayspring from on high, Jesus. For this reason candles often play a significant role in Advent. The Advent Wreath, with four candles for each Sunday in Advent, comes out of Lutheran practice as a way to mark the increasing light of Christ’s coming. Similarly, the blue of Advent gives way to rose on the Third Sunday in Advent. Having passed the halfway mark of Advent, the color “lightens” in view of the coming, brilliant feast.
In sum, Advent is like a practice, even a drill, in hope. It increases our joy and appreciation of Christmas as not only a commemoration of Christ’s birth, but a foretaste of His glorious coming again. For this same reason, the Sunday Gospel lessons focus on different arrivals of Christ, such as His riding in Jerusalem (holy Zion!) on a donkey, His coming as Judge at the end of the world, and His coming as Savior in ancient Judea.
Various saints days fall during Advent that are appropriate to its season. The bishop, St. Nicholas (December 6) teaches us about the generosity that hope inspires; martyr St. Lucia (December 13) teaches us about hope in the midst of suffering; and Sts. Adam and Eve (December 19) remind us that the human race, with the whole creation, was made for receiving and welcoming the Son of God.
Advent calendars, acts of charity and generosity, reconciliation and forgiveness, the use of such hopeful psalms as Psalm 24, 80, and 130, and delaying Christmas celebrations in favor of an even more joyful patience and anticipation, are all helpful way to observe Advent at home. For good reason it is the first season of a new Church year, for all of the Church’s time is spent waiting on her Lord.
Word at the Middle of the Week – December 6, 2023
Other recent online Bible studies are located on the Online Study page.
The Voice of the Shepherd
Zion’s sister congregation in Easton, Bethany Lutheran Church, sponsors a weekly radio broadcast on Sunday mornings, “The Voice of the Shepherd,” started by our pastors in July 2020. The broadcast is 10 minutes in length and airs on FM 106.1 WACD every Sunday morning at 8 AM.