Monday, December 8, 2014

The Advent Season

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places”  Ephesians 1:3

The past two weeks in church we have lit Advent candles signaling the start of our Advent season.  Advent by definition is the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event; the first season of the Christian church year, leading up to Christmas and including the four preceding Sundays; the coming or second coming of Christ. So the definition means “coming or “arrival” and for Christians, the entire focus of the season is on the coming birth of Jesus Christ. 

The Hanging of the Green – Why do we do this?
The beginning of Advent is a time for the hanging of the green, decoration of the church with evergreen wreaths, boughs, or trees that help to symbolize the new and everlasting life brought through Jesus the Christ. Some churches have a special weekday service, or the first Sunday evening of Advent, or even the first Sunday morning of Advent, in which the church is decorated and the Advent wreath put in place. This service is most often primarily of music, especially choir and hand bells, and Scripture reading, along with an explanation of the various symbols as they are placed in the sanctuary.  Our church celebrates this Sunday with our Hanging of the Green service.  During this service our Senior Adult Choir, the Foundation Singers, perform along with the youth choir while the congregation decorates the giant Christmas tree that will adorn our stage throughout the Christmas season. 

Celebrating Advent
Advent is one of the few Christian festivals that can be observed in the home as well as at church.  In its association with Christmas, Advent is a natural time to involve children in activities at home that directly connect with worship at church.  In the home an Advent wreath may be placed on the dining table and the candles lighted at meals, with Scripture readings preceding the lighting of the candles, especially on Sunday. A new candle is lighted each Sunday during the four weeks, and then the same candles are lighted each meal during the week. In this context, it provides the opportunity for family devotion and prayer together, and helps teach the Faith to children, especially if they are involved in reading the Bible daily.

Many families celebrate the Advent season in different ways.  Some families decorate the house for the beginning of Advent, or bake special cookies or treats, or simply begin to use table coverings for meals. An Advent Calendar is a way to keep children involved in the entire season.  There are a wide variety of Advent calendars, but usually they are simply a card or poster with windows that can be opened, one each day of Advent, to reveal some symbol or picture associated with the Old Testament story leading up to the birth of Jesus.

Every year our church provides families with an Advent project that they can do together at home during the Christmas season.

Scripture to Claim:

And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest."  Luke 10:2 ESV

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